39 hurts, more than helps | AspenTimes.com

39 hurts, more than helps

Dear Editor:Amendment 39 mandates that 65 percent of every education dollar be spent “in the classroom.” As the director of finance for Roaring Fork School District for 11 years, I am very concerned about the negative impacts this law will have on our school district and others across Colorado.Of 178 Colorado districts, Re-1 ranks in the top 15 percent in the percentage spent “in the classroom.” Even so, last year’s data submitted to the Colorado Department of Education indicates that this mandate would have forced the district to cut $750,000 from support services such as counselors, nurses, technology support, lunch programs, bus service, administration, resource officers, maintenance of buildings and grounds, custodians and utilities for all buildings.Under Amendment 39, grants and private donations for student support services and teacher training count against the district because they are considered “out of classroom” expenditures. Our district has been aggressive in obtaining almost $1 million per year in such grants, which will be in jeopardy if this amendment passes.This law is expected to have the biggest impact on rural districts like ours with significant transportation costs. For example, Re-1 spent $1.6 million on student transportation last year, while an urban district with similar enrollment spent only $600,000.Even simple decisions will become complex. For example, our district is considering starting a hot lunch program at one of our high schools. Although this would be a self-supporting, fee-based program, these funds are considered “out-of-the-classroom” expenditures and would count against the district under this mandate. Therefore, we would have to cut support services in other areas of the district to add the lunch program.This amendment, sponsored by an out-of-state organization, will force districts across Colorado to make decisions based on an arbitrary formula rather than on the priorities of the students, schools and communities we serve.Please vote No on Amendment 39.Shannon PellandGlenwood Springs