Take a hit for our schools | AspenTimes.com

Take a hit for our schools

Dear Editor:

There’s a lot of misinformation out there surrounding the mill levy override (ballot initiative 3E). I hope people will make sure they have the facts straight before they make up their minds.

One misinformed comment I’ve been hearing from people is, “Why didn’t the school district spend their money more prudently when property values were high, so that they wouldn’t be in such terrible financial straits now?”

The fact is, during the years when property values were extremely high in this valley, the district did not enjoy a corresponding increase in funding. Because of our state’s equalization system, when the amount of revenue a district collects from local property taxes increases, the amount of funds given to that district by the state decreases. As a result, the total funds the district receives each year doesn’t vary with fluctuations in property values.

Fortunately, the mill levy override does not enter into the state equalization formula. That means that the funds we raise through the mill levy override will not result in a decrease in funding from the state. It’s a separate “pot” of money, so to speak. The funds from the mill levy override will be funds for our district only, under our local control.

Our schools, like schools throughout Colorado, are facing a very dismal financial outlook. This budget crisis is due not just to the recent economic downturn, but more fundamentally it is due to Colorado’s inadequate system for funding public education. It has been widely documented that Colorado’s public school funding system is not working. (See the recent University of Colorado study: “Colorado’s Fiscal Future: We’ll get what we pay for”)

The mill levy override is a solution that we can take locally, to take care of our children, our schools and our communities, despite insufficient funding from the state.

Mary Sikes


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