Yes on Amendment 66: The right choice for Colorado schools | SteamboatToday.com

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Yes on Amendment 66: The right choice for Colorado schools

This fall, voters have the chance to make an investment in Colorado's future that will help us rebound from the more than $1 billion in recent state cuts to K-12 schools and will make Colorado a leader in public education reform.

If Amendment 66 passes, schools can provide smaller class sizes, more one-on-one attention to every student and ensure districts have the flexibility to restore funding for things like art and music classes, sports programs and transportation.

Additionally, Amendment 66 provides money for classroom technology, longer school days and school years and early education in the form of full-day kindergarten for everyone who wants it. Importantly, it will eliminate the Colorado Preschool Program waiting list, giving more than 25,000 at-risk children a chance to enroll in preschool. It will help create a more level playing field for rural schools — a significant point for districts like Steamboat and South Routt. It will put effective educators into our classrooms, give principals more control over their budgets and requires state reports on how the system is stacking up.

Our state has passed significant education reforms during the past five years but have lacked the funding to be properly implemented. Amendment 66 will help pay to more thoroughly implement some of these notable reforms, including setting statewide standards for what students need to know at every grade level, holding schools and districts responsible for student achievement, ensuring all students have highly effective teachers and requiring every child to be reading at grade level by the third grade.

Every school district in the state will see an increase in funding under Amendment 66. What that means is our students will have access to a quality education.

If Amendment 66 passes, Steamboat Springs School District will receive about $1,507,500 more in funding and South Routt School District will receive an additional $330,300. Additionally, special education funding for Northwest Board of Cooperative Educational Services would increase by about $386,000 every year, allowing these districts to free up local dollars that have been spent on this federal requirement so that the additional money can benefit all students.

Putting our kids on the path to success is not a course of action that should be limited by where they happen to live.

Lastly, voters need to know the truth about what they'll pay and where the money will go. Amendment 66 provides every Coloradan the ability to know where their dollars are going.

Under the two-step income-tax rate increases called for in Amendment 66, the average Colorado taxpayer would pay an additional $133 per year, or about $2.50 per week. And new money raised under Amendment 66 is constitutionally required to go to classroom and programmatic improvements and is locked in the State Education Achievement Fund so it can't be used for other purposes.

Opponents of the measure aren't focused on what it will do for students and for our economy. Instead, they are pushing out misleading information and arguments. Their points are easily refuted. See for yourself at http://www.voteyeson66.com.

Ultimately, Colorado voters are being asked to answer a fundamental question with Amendment 66: What kind of state do we want to leave for the next generation?

My answer is that we must be committed to creating and leaving them a better Colorado.

Join me in demonstrating that commitment by voting "yes" on Amendment 66.

Sue Birch is executive director of the Department of Health Care Policy and Finance.