Aspen School District wins over voters
ASPEN – Aspen voters once again showed their support for the local public schools Tuesday, handily approving Referendum 3A by a vote of 3,325 to 1,859.
“I think this says a couple of things, but most important it shows that our parents and the community at large truly value the schools as an asset,” said Aspen Superintendent Dr. John Maloy. “They realize the schools do an incredible job preparing our kids for their futures, and they are willing to support this.”
The Aspen School District asked voters to approve a $1.35 million annual property tax increase to compensate for state-mandated budget cuts, as well as to offset anticipated reductions in property tax revenue due to falling property values. The cost to property owners is an additional $16 per year for every $500,000 of market value, according to Maloy.
“We really trusted the voters to use their heads in making the right decision, and the results show they clearly trust us to do what is right for our kids,” said school board President Charla Belinski. “This is a really great outcome for our entire community.”
If Referendum 3A had failed at the polls, the school district would have faced a funding shortfall of approximately $1.6 million for the 2011-12 school year, which would have come at the expense of teacher salaries, class sizes and school programming. With the passing of Referendum 3A, that shortfall is significantly smaller.
“We still have some work to do,” acknowledged Maloy. “But this mill levy override helps us close the gap; it allows us – in the big picture – to maintain the quality that our parents and the community have come to expect, as well as to retain the quality teachers we have recruited and trained, and who are key to the district’s success.”
The Aspen School Board decided unanimously to pursue the ballot measure in late August, after a poll of Aspen voters showed overwhelming support for the school district and the proposed tax increase.
“With 3A passing, and the three state measures failing, what that really speaks volumes about is the fact that people understand that to have quality education – and services in general – we need to step up to the plate,” said Belinski.
She was referring to amendments 60 and 61, and proposition 101 on the state ballot, which would have seriously affected school funding. Colorado voters shot down those measures, according to The Associated Press.
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Pitkin County administrators are proposing a more than $142 million budget for 2020, which is about $6 million less than this year because of fewer construction projects and capital improvements.