Property tax will aid search for teachers | AspenTimes.com

Property tax will aid search for teachers

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The Aspen School Board recently budgeted a portion of the $1.2 million tax boost approved by Pitkin County voters last November for teacher recruitment.

During its March 18 meeting, the board unanimously voted to use $50,000 of the money garnered from last year’s property tax increase, said board member Jon Seigle. The money will give the Aspen School District a presence at education job fairs, pay for nationwide advertising and even help potential hires make the pricey trip to town, Seigle said.

“In some cases, it will also provide money to fly people out here,” he said.

Seigle, who also serves on the salary task force that makes recommendations for the annual allotment provided by November’s vote, said Monday’s decision will help the district attract quality hires before the start of the new school year in September.

“Given the time of year, we thought it was important,” Seigle said.

The Aspen School District Initiative, ballot Question 3A on last November’s ballots, will bring the district an additional $1.2 million a year through an increase in property taxes. The tax, which will cost residents an extra $6.30 annually for every $100,000 of residential property owned, will help the district supplement its high cost of living for teachers and administrators.

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The initiative was brought about by State Bill 129, legislation that allows Colorado schools to collect supplemental money that the state cannot afford to provide. The bill was introduced last year when, under a threat of a lawsuit, the state acknowledged that it could not help school districts – especially those in resort towns – fight cost-of-living increases.

The school district had been running at a deficit for nearly 10 years – at the beginning of the 2001 school year, the district was short $200,000 – but the vote will help district operations stay in the black.

The $50,000 allocation marks the second time the November vote has benefited the school district budget. In December, the board injected $415,000 into the teacher salary schedule, allowing varying degrees of raises. Teachers’ paychecks were boosted in accordance with their experience, educational background and time spent with the Aspen School District.