Opinion | East, West Grand superintendents come together in support of Amendment 73 | SkyHiNews.com

Opinion | East, West Grand superintendents come together in support of Amendment 73

Frank Reeves and Darrin Peppard

Frank Reeves and Darrin Peppard

As superintendents of our two great school districts in Grand County, we are writing this letter in hopes to gain your support for Amendment 73 in the upcoming November election. Amendment 73 will raise over $1.6 billion dollars statewide on an annual basis. The money will then be distributed to districts based on student count. For East Grand, that means an additional $2,000,000 every year. West Grand School District will receive over $800,000 each year. This money will be raised by a graduated income tax increase for those who report over $150,000 of taxable income on their Colorado income tax returns. Income taxes paid by "C" corporations will increase as well. For most (92 percent) of Colorado's tax payers, there will be no income tax increase at all. In addition, Amendment 73 addresses the problems created by the Gallagher Amendment. Business property taxes will be reduced from 29 percent and fixed to 24 percent, while personal property taxes will be set at 7 percent of assessed valuation, down from the 7.2 percent from the previous year.

Our Grand County communities believe in strong local control of how our taxpayer money is spent. Amendment 73 is aligned with that belief. Amendment 73 distributes money based on specific student factors but does not dictate how that money is spent locally. Amendment 73 includes language for full day kindergarten funding, as well as increases in funding for English Language Learners (ELL) and Gifted and Talented (GT) students. Finally, Amendment 73 uses a formula to fund districts with students qualifying for both free and reduced price lunch where the current formula only provides districts with funding for free lunch priced students. Both East Grand and West Grand districts have surveys out to the public asking how best to use this additional funding. Topics that seem of importance in both districts are the recruitment and retention of staff and re-establishing programs that have been cut over the past decade due to reductions in funding.

Opponents to Amendment 73 claim that this amendment will have a negative impact on other special districts when in fact it only changes the tax structure for education. Amendment 73 has been reviewed by the legislative legal counsel 3 times and all 3 times they concluded Amendment 73 will have no effect on any other special district or entity. Amendment 73 only changes the tax structure for education. Opponents claim that the language surrounding tax increases is misleading. For example, opponents claim that corporate taxes will raise by 23 percent from its current 4.63 percent. The amendment says the increase will be in increments not in percentages and that the 1.37 percent increase will make "C" corporation taxes total 6 percent. Last, those opponents who are saying there is a better way to fund our schools do not understand recent school funding history in Colorado. Over the past 9 years, East Grand has been underfunded by over $8 million dollars, while West Grand's funding gap exceeds $4 million dollars during the same time period. Throughout this time, many solutions to close this gap have been offered to our legislators. However, there has been an unwillingness from legislators to change anything. No way of funding is perfect, but doing something to fix a problem is a far better solution than doing nothing.

Please support our Grand County Schools and vote in support of Amendment 73. We have great schools, great students and great communities. With this increase in funding we will be able to provide more opportunities and a higher quality education for our students.

Thank you for your continued support of our students and schools.

Frank Reeves is superintendent of East Grand School District. Darrin Peppard is superintendent of West Grand School District.

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