Remember the 3As this election
October 22, 2010
When you look at your ballot this year and see the West Grand District Mill Levy Override 3A measure, think of Academics, Activities and Accountability.
The district has made great strides in Academics the past few years. Our high school was recently recognized as a Colorado School of Distinction, the only one in northwestern Colorado to receive that designation. Our elementary school ranks well above the state average and received a rating of Performance, the top category awarded by the Colorado Department of Education. The district also has an intervention program that identifies subjects that need further development as well as those for which we can provide enrichment opportunities. Our high school has a dual-credit program in which students can earn college credit, saving time and money when they earn their college degrees after high school.
Our Activities have provided excellent opportunities for all students and are providing the well-balanced education that we believe to be important in the development of our youth. Those activities include: athletics, music, drama, forensics, robotics, brain bowl, national junior honor society, Student Council and international affairs. We believe these learning experiences and exposure to educational opportunities outside our community are important, but are often the first things cut from a budget.
The school district is required by law to present a balanced budget to the state and to the community. There are state laws and amendments to the constitution that determine the size of that budget.
One of the primary components of that budget formula is the size of the student body. West Grand, like virtually all rural school districts in the state, has seen a steady decrease in enrollment over the past 10 years.
Within the constraints of that state-mandated budget, it has been the goal of the West Grand School Board of Directors and the district staff members to provide a balanced and relevant education for the children of our community. Today’s students deserve the same quality of opportunities as the students of the past 10 years. This is only possible with a small increase in local revenue, something only the residents of West Grand can approve.
With that in mind, it has been the goal of the board of directors, the administration team and the campaign committee to provide people with the most accurate information possible. That has been done through public meetings, mailings, posters and personal contacts. The board also appreciates the Ski-Hi News for publishing the article on Sept. 20 with the headlines “W. Grand Students Ace CSAPs,” which puts our high school in the top five percent of all open enrollment public high schools in Colorado. The paper also published a recent article with updated financial information printed on Sept. 30. This information was also shared at the public meeting held on Oct. 5 for those who asked for more information regarding the override.
To summarize that information, the district has laid off six staff members, cutting $202,000 from the budget. In addition we have cut an additional $204,000 in supplies and programs. The state rescinded $45,000 because it was not able to honor Amendment 23. This combined with the loss of revenue from the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus money ($76,000), declining enrollment ($113,000) and sun-setting overrides within our own district ($124,000), and we are facing $380,000 less in revenue that is available to the district.
Combined with mandated increases in line items like insurance, workers compensation, unemployment and utilities, we will be facing major cuts in the programs offered and the quality of education and services provided. These cuts will exceed $400,000 in next year’s budget if 3A fails, and even more if Amendment 60, Amendment 61 or Proposition 101 pass.
That is the rationale behind the school board’s decision to ask the voters for this tax override, which would bring in $420,000 to the district. It is money that cannot be taken back by the state or federal government.
Almost everything worth achieving in life includes personal sacrifice. This tax override will cost $23.43 per year for a person who owns a house that has an assessed valuation of $200,000. A person with commercial property or agricultural land that has an assessed valuation of $500,000 will see an increase of $213.15 per year. Remember, taxpayers are already paying 30 percent of that total with the existing overrides that sunset this year. For example, if you own a $200,000 home, you would see an increase in your taxes of approximately $14 (or about $1 a month).
Remember the 3A’s: Academics, Activities and Accountability when voting.
We request that you vote Yes on 3A.