Carbondale trustees endorse Re-1 override
September 15, 2011
CARBONDALE – The Carbondale Town Board has unanimously endorsed the Roaring Fork Re-1 School District’s $4.8 million mill levy override proposal, which goes before voters in Carbondale, Basalt and Glenwood Springs in the Nov. 1 mail ballot election.
“This goes to the issue of the overall health of our community,” Carbondale Mayor Stacey Bernot said during the board’s regular Tuesday meeting. “Schools are a big part of that.”
The board voted 7-0 to endorse the measure.
The override seeks to increase the local property tax mill levy in order to make up for a loss in the state of Colorado’s per-pupil funding to Re-1 schools that has come as a result of state budget cuts.
That has added up to $5.2 million over the last three years, Re-1 school board member Bill Lamont explained to the Carbondale board.
In response, Re-1 has eliminated 15 teaching positions between the three communities and cut a total of 80 full- and part-time staff positions.
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Other district budget cuts have included a reduction in salaries for teachers, administrators and staff, an ongoing wage freeze, suspension of new curriculum purchases and a more than 40 percent reduction in each schools’ supplies and materials budgets over the last two years.
Additional cuts in state funding are anticipated in future years, Lamont said. While the district cannot control the amount of funding it receives from the state each year, it is allowed to ask local voters for extra funding through property taxes, he said.
“This is something we do not do lightly,” Lamont said. A drop in assessed valuations over the last two years has meant a decrease in the amount of local property taxes for Re-1 schools, he said.
“What we’re asking for is about the same as the drop would be from the lower assessed valuation,” he said.
A mill levy override property tax calculator has been posted on the school district website – http://www.rfsd.k12.co.us – so taxpayers can figure their new property tax amount for Re-1 schools with the override.
“We believe this is recognizing that schools are an important part of the quality of life in any community,” Lamont said at the Carbondale meeting. “And, we have made a lot of progress in recent years … that we would like to be able to sustain.”
Carbondale Trustee Frosty Merriott said the school system is an important component in the town’s economic development efforts.
“It’s hard to do anything in the way of economic development if you don’t have a good school system,” he said. “I’m all in favor of trying to get this mill levy passed.”
According to Re-1 mill levy proposal, if approved, the override funds are intended to be used to preserve small class sizes, attract and retain quality staff, provide quality texts, technology and other learning materials, and maintain school buildings.