Jeffco Public Schools Ballot Questions 5A & 5B

On September 6th, the Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education approved the language that will appear on this fall’s ballot for a mill levy override (for ongoing expenses such as paying teachers and staff and student academic and career/technical programs) as well as a bond question (for school and facility construction and renovation projects). The Mill Levy Override will appear as question 5A. The Bond will be question 5B.

Colorado ballot questions are notoriously long legal statements that include the tax increase amount and other language required under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) Amendment.

In Jeffco’s case, our mill levy override and bond ballot questions will include additional language that add some specifics on how the funds would be used, as well as some accountability provisions and restrictions on uses.

On the mill levy override (funds for teachers and ongoing expenses), the ballot question specifies that the tax increase for 2018-19 is $33 million (and increasing with inflation thereafter). The mill levy ballot question also directs that funds be used for the following purposes:

  • Expanding programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and in career/technical education;
  • Attract and retain high quality teachers by ensuring the district is able to be competitive in compensation and benefits for teachers and staff;
  • Improving student safety by increasing mental health and counseling professionals to improve student mental health services, including suicide prevention and substance abuse counseling.
  • Updating aged and outdated instructional resources such as books, supplies, and technology;
  • Increasing early education programs

The mill levy language goes on to state some restrictions and accountability provisions. These are:

  • No revenue … will be used for senior district administration;
  • The spending … will be reviewed by the citizen’s financial oversight advisory committee
  • The funds are subjected to an annual independent audit

On the bond side (funds for construction), the ballot question states asks if the district’s debt can be increased by $567 million, with total repayment costs of $997 million (or a lesser amount) for the purpose of providing Jeffco students, teachers, and staff with a safe learning environment that prepares students for college and the workforce. The ballot language specifies that the bond funds be for these purposes:

  • Adding and expanding career/technical education facilities;
  • Upgrading safety and security in school buildings;
  • Repairing, renovating, equipping, or reconstructing school buildings to ensire all schools are more safe, efficient, and accessible to all students, including those with disabilities;
  • Constructing, furnishing, equipping, and supporting needed school buildings and classrooms at all types of schools, including schools chartered by the district

The bond language goes to place these conditions on use of bond funds:

  • The district will have a preference for hiring local construction contractors;
  • The funds cannot be used for senior district administration;
  • The spending of these funds is overseen by the citizens’ Capital Asset Advisory Committee;
  • The funds are subject to an annual external audit

In September, you can expect to receive voter Ballot Information Booklets, which will have the full legal text of the ballot questions, as well as arguments for and against these measures.

In mid-October, you can expect your mail-in ballots to arrive. This year, it is expected that there will be a lengthy ballot with lots of offices and questions, so please take the time to review your ballot closely.

On behalf of all of us with Jeffco Public Schools, we appreciate the opportunity to serve your families and this wonderful community. Ultimately, we look to the citizens of Jeffco to have the final say on school funding.

10 thoughts on “Jeffco Public Schools Ballot Questions 5A & 5B

  1. Thank you. This is useful information, but it also raises questions about how the monies will be spent and paid for. Older retirees like myself can be a tough sell when it comes to school funding issues. — John Kiljan

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    1. Thanks for the engagement, John. Both questions 5A and 5B are property taxes. Both also include specific language in the ballot questions as to how they can be spent. I am not able to argue for or against this ballot issue and encourage everyone to be informed and make the decision that is right for them. You can learn more details on the tax impact and uses of the funds by visiting the district’s future funding website here: http://jeffcopublicschools.org/cms/one.aspx?pageId=4540440

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  2. I wish the Jeffco schools community the best. I hope the school funding measure passes. Douglas county where I reside has failed several times to raise much needed funds for our schools. The cost to our community’s children has been enormous. We have lost quality teachers and programs at all levels. Class sizes have ballooned and student engagement has suffered. It is a shame that those who have already benefited from the public education system are not willing to pay it forward and invest in those that will be paying the future taxes that pay for current and future retiree benefits among other things . Americans must learn to not be so self centered and become more community minded.

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  3. The only issue I have with the Bond issue is some of the funding going to Charter Schools. Don’t these schools already receive additional funding from those that attend? Also, some of the Educational Criteria they have does not always met what I would call a State or County Standard. They are too diverse in their Designated material

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    1. Hi Doug – thanks for contributing. We want all our schools in Jeffco to succeed, including our charter schools. Like our neighborhood and option schools, charter schools serve Jeffco kids and families – so we wish them to have the resources to do that well. There are a variety of educational philosophies represented in charter schools, but there is also an increasing variety present in our other schools as well. All our schools have needs, but their success is not zero-sum – we are looking for ways to help all schools thrive across the board.

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  4. It says in the white booklet I received regarding local ballot issues, in the section “comments filed by persons AGAINST proposal 5A, that 75% of the money would go to fund PERA. Is this an accurate statement?

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  5. Question: Given PERA’s funding dilemma, why are employees allowed to continue to purchase service credits? Doesn’t this put additional burden on the plan, when they have the ability to save in a 401(k) 457 or 403(b) plan? And, given the annual COLA, even more so. That’s why a DBP is no longer an option in the private sector. The majority of tax payers do not have that luxury, and thus, why teacher pay should stay in line with where it is, they are well compensated. The average Jeffco employee has no idea what there actual pay is because it is back loaded in the form of a pension. If you took the present value of future cash flows from a pension of someone who has 30 years, it would equate to approximately $1.5-$2.0 Million. How many college educated folks with well-paying jobs can save that kind of $, taking market risk, and potentially retire @ age 55? And, you don’t have to be a good teacher, just survive. And, given longevity concerns, put even more pressure on the plan. I’m all for education, and making Jeffco’s the best, but taxpayers are constantly being sold a bill of goods.
    That’s why not enough $ go to these other well needed initiatives. Teacher’s are being paid well, they just don’t understand the math, but they should. Lastly, our teachers need to teach, not teach for the test as they must do now in order to survive. More teachers are needed so that class sizes are manageable. That is the biggest priority of the time.

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    1. Hi Robert – thanks for contributing. PERA is a state mandated system, to which Jeffco and our employees are obligated to contribute. Specific to the purchased service aspect you mention, the costs do increase based on your income and years of service – ostensibly costing more to buy a year if you will cost the system more at retirement and there is less time to build investment earnings. You can read more on the specifics of the purchased service system here: https://www.copera.org/members/purchasing-service-credit. Public employee total compensation systems are back loaded, as you also mention. This does become a powerful incentive for longevity, which has its pros and cons. As for your later point, that we need to be teaching our kids so they can survive and thrive in their future, and less to the test – I couldn’t agree more. Check out the Jeffco Generations Vision, which reaches much the same conclusion. https://drive.google.com/a/jeffcoschools.us/file/d/0B6wXLehUMKccLWZNQk41YmxNR2M/view?usp=drivesdk

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