I am a long time advocate of public schools and supporting funding for public schools has been an ongoing endeavor for me in Jeffco since 2000, when my daughter started kindergarten and I was approached by the PTA president to help distribute yard signs for the current mill/bond. I then found myself working on the campaign to support the 2004 mill/bond, I chaired the north half of the district in the 2008 mill/bond campaign, and co-chaired the 2012 mill/bond. In 2016 I also worked to support the mill/bond.
Maybe you see the on-going cycle here. Some of these we passed in Jeffco, and some we did not. Jeffco is funny that way. But my history may tell you why I’m so excited and such a big supporter of Amendment 73. It’s our best chance in Colorado to change the way we fund (as opposed to underfund) public schools in Colorado. At least, in Jeffco we were able to pass a couple of those mill/bonds. Colorado has many districts who aren’t that lucky. Latest count has 104 districts across our state on a 4 day school week.
It blows my mind that Colorado has one of the fastest growing economies in the country (I think we are ranked 1 or 2 in the nation), yet we spend less on education now than we did before the recession. In fact, Colorado invests roughly $2,800 less than the national average on each student—giving us the not-so- distinct honor of trailing Mississippi and Alabama.
The vast majority of our school districts have teacher shortages because Colorado has the least competitive teacher wages in the country. The average teacher salary in rural Colorado is about $38,000, leaving many working 2-3 jobs to support their families.
Amendment 73 will give schools the funding they desperately need to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers, strengthen science, math, vocational, literacy, and mental health programs, and provide a safe learning environment for all students.
After defunding our kids and schools by nearly $7 billion over the past decade, I’m hopeful Coloradans are tired of being ranked so close to the bottom, and are willing to really invest in our kids and our future.