Act Locally

Sadly, there are too many individuals still ignoring the obvious. We are seriously underfunding education in Colorado. In Jeffco, voters neglected to increase funding and take care of our buildings by not voting for (and not volunteering for) the 3A and 3B initiatives in November.

Take a look at this article from The Washington Post in 2015 –

“U.S. states’ education spending averaged $10,700 per pupil in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but that average masked a wide variation, ranging from $6,555 per pupil in Utah to $19,818 in New York.”

“There’s an even larger range separating the lowest- and highest-spending of the nation’s largest 100 school districts: At the low end is Jordan, Utah, at $5,708 per student; at the high end is Boston, Mass., at $20,502.”

“Part of the variation is due to the huge differences in costs of living nationwide, which influence everything from teacher salaries to the cost of building and maintaining school facilities. Part is also due to economic realities — many states’ education spending remains lower than it was before the recession.”

“And part of the variation is due to political decisions to invest more or less in schools, or to do more or less to equalize education spending across low- and high-income areas.”

“Federal data show that there is a growing gap in education spending by the nation’s poorest and most affluent school districts.”

Economists and nonprofit education advocacy organizations such as the Colorado School Finance Project, the Colorado Fiscal Institute, Great Education Colorado, PTA, and so many others have been sharing information about the issues funding education for years now. But people continue to ignore the obvious. It’s up to the community to decide to appropriately fund our schools in Colorado and it’s up to the community to do the campaign work to make it happen, because that’s what Colorado voted for years ago.

Playing games with funding, when your experts are already telling you it’s too low and we’ve cut too much, isn’t a wise choice but it continues to happen. Organizations funded by dark money and anonymous Facebook pages have nothing good to say about our schools and spread malicious rumors attacking our schools, staff, parents, teachers, and legislators – anyone who would advocate for better funding and many of us who advocated to rid our board of education from the previous problems with transparency, accountability, and wasteful spending that was occurring prior to the extremely success recall of those 3 board members.

65% of voters wanted that nonsense to end and showed up in record numbers to board meetings. The types of people who don’t support public schools really are few in number and even fewer of those individuals have actually set foot in one of our schools.

The majority of people just really need information and that’s where the 65% of our community who have been engaged in education previously are needed.

From 2013 through 2015, thousands of people were active and sharing information. Once voters approved the new board members (Ali Lasell, Amanda Stevens, Brad Rupert, Susan Harmon, and Ron Mitchell), also by 65%, voters relaxed knowing they could count on accountability and transparency and had put the district back in the hands of board members who love Jeffco Schools.

We’ve worked hard in Jeffco to do more with less, but too many kids are not getting the support they need. Jeffco Schools faces more tough choices ahead due to limited state funding, the failure of ballot measures 3A and 3B and shifting enrollment.

  • Since 2009, Jeffco Schools has lost more than $558 million in funding due to the negative factor.
  • Jeffco Schools has yet to restore cuts since 2009 – including budget cuts in financial services, the board of education, custodial services and field services such as deferred maintenance for buildings.
  • What about all that pot money? It’s capped at $40 million a year for public schools. That’s just 0.7 percent of the state’s total K-12 budget. More than 170 school districts in Colorado are eligible for the matching funds. The dollars largely go to rural school districts for building repairs. Jeffco has received nearly $494,000 of it in 2016 for dropout and drug prevention.

Safe, up-to-date, welcoming schools create a learning environment that helps students thrive. The average school building in Jeffco is more than 45 years old. More than 100 elementary, middle and high school buildings need overdue improvements, including roofs, plumbing, electrical and lighting.

With all the issues surrounding our federal government, it’s easy to overlook our local issues such as education. However, it is critical that our community understand the issues and continue to participate and share information with friends, family, and neighbors. Supporting public education changes lives, for the entire community.

Think globally but act locally! You are needed!

Support Jeffco Kids!