Yesterday we corrected the lies told about education funding. Today, we’ll address a few more statements that were made at a forum.
“The bond package was bad for kids.” Let’s examine that. The video below was taken in 2012 when the campaign for 3B asked voters to fund the basics to keep our kids warm, safe, and dry. BARE MINIMUM. The video shows only the outside of some of our buildings, not the internal issues. Unpaid parent volunteers took their own time to ensure that these pictures were documented and available to the community.
While the district has 155 schools to maintain and the average age is over 45 years, cuts to education funding and facility management hasn’t improved the condition of the properties featured 5 years ago.
The district facilities staff presented needs to the community that total more than $800,000.
More than 115,000 people use the facilities of Jeffco Schools EVERY DAY and evenings too (176 total buildings.)
Think about that kind of wear and tear!
The National PTA “believes the school environment significantly impacts students’ academic achievement…
…affirms that adequate school facilities are not only crucial to the success of our nation’s public schools, but they are also a reflection of and resource for the communities in which they are located. Since school facilities are a capital asset constituting a large investment of public funds, the National PTA desires that all school facilities encourage community utilization and involvement…”
We can only assume that the individuals who want to state these inaccuracies in an effort to mislead are trying to replay the myths they presented during the mill and bond campaign, each of which was proven to be false.
Myth: The Bond is a “Buy Now, Pay Later” Scheme
Truth: The bond structure is intended to mitigate tax impact.
All one level debt = a level mill levy
This allows for the required consistency in payment amounts, just like mortgages. (When we sign those final papers on our home loan, we like knowing the amount we pay in month one is the same amount we will pay in month 18, month 36, etc.)
Since ’92 this has been a common business practice for public entities, which cannot function on a cash base structure, i.e., Fire Departments, Police Departments, City of Arvada, City of Lakewood, Jefferson County, State of Colorado, etc.
Interest rates are at an all time low. From the Wall Street Journal, American Paradox: It’s Never Been Cheaper for Cities and States to Borrow Money…
“Plunging global interest rates have made borrowing cheaper than ever…
New government-bond issues have dropped to levels not seen in the past 20 years.”
Myth: The billion dollar bond, if paid in equal installments over 20 years would cost about $30 million a year but our children and grandchildren will pay over $70 million a year.
Our children and grandchildren will pay over $200 million more in interest payments than necessary because of the payoff scheme.
Truth: If we use that math, we would pay 2 ½ times more.
Thankfully, we have highly qualified staff with extreme expertise who understand debt structure and finance models and can save tax-payer dollars.
Finances can be complicated for some people to understand. The creator of these myths just doesn’t understand the big picture or finance. This is not a game to be played when real students are at stake.
Myth: This will be a 25 year bond, not a 20 year bond, lengthening the repayments 20% more than what was discussed in the community.
Truth: This is just an untrue statement intended to mislead the public. State law allows up to a 25 year term.
Think of your home mortgage. Most home buyers finance their home mortgages over 15, 25 or 30 years to keep their monthly payments lower because they have other financial responsibilities. So do school districts! We also know that school funding is a statewide issue and know there won’t be additional money anytime soon. In fact, there may be another decrease in 2018 due to TABOR.
25 year loan on a mortgage= smaller monthly payment with interest paid over the life of the mortgage loan.
10 year loan on a mortgage= almost twice the size of the monthly payment on the 25 year loan also with interest paid on the mortgage loan.
Myth: Less than Half of the Bond Funds are going to fix facilities
Truth: The district’s true facility needs are in excess of $1.2 billion:
$800 million needs comes from the FCI (Facility Condition Index) analysis:
- $550 million in current needs
- $250 million in Education and/or Technical upgrades
- Does NOT include any new or additional construction
Myth: Over 20% of the Bond Proceeds are for Wall Street fees and cost overruns
Truth: Less than 7/10 of 1% in fees and cost.
Not to Wall Street, but a local business.
Myth: 22% not allocated at this point
Truth: 78% of what is allocated is “hard cost” (brick & mortar)
22% is designated for engineering, architectural designs to meet needs based on soil, space, etc.
Note: The district does not get to select the land provided them by the developer for the school site. Law requires the developer provide the plot of land for schools; sadly, the developers do not often designate land that allows a school to be built easily. Often, it is the land with the least value and most need for additional work, which includes these additional soft costs.
Turf fields and gymnasiums:
Myth: Over $30 million of the proposed bond will go toward building 2nd gyms and turf fields.
Truth: It’s a matter of safety as well as educational equity! (Jefferson Academy was able to finance their own athletic field from private donations.) Field conditions can and have impacted the safety of our students.
Our fields are used year round for more sport teams than ever before. This is extreme wear and tear on turf that used to be able to “rest” during an off season. There is no longer an off season for our fields, they are used year round, consistently.
Anyone who has participated in sports will tell you that falling on rock or packed soil with no turf results in some very painful injuries beyond falling on turf. Why would we not try to protect our student athletes from severe injury?
Just a few items to note – the median age of our buildings is 45 years. Anyone who spends time in our schools can tell you a long list of needs, some critical.
- The district is committed to protecting the safety and security of our children and a review of the facilities has identified high priority safety and security needs at our schools.
- The average school building in Jefferson County is 45 years old. Many of the heating and cooling systems, boilers, and plumbing are dated and inefficient. (The district could save tens of thousands of dollars on utility bills if we make investments in upgrading to more efficient systems.)
- Every single school in the district has some repair need, with many of them facing critical ones like leaky roofs, faulty wiring, out‐dated fire alarms, and other basic needs. Funding approved by voters in 2012 fixed the most urgent needs on time and within budget, but state cuts has caused a growing repair backlog.
Funding education is never a bad deal, especially for children.
Learn the facts
It’s truly important that everyone understand facts about education and it’s not a simple subject.
- Education funding is a statewide issue. There are inequities across all of our public schools in Colorado and these issues are increasing.
- Though Jeffco passed a Band-Aid mill and bond in 2012, it was only for the most dire needs. The 2008 mill and bond failed and we have not made a significant investment in our public schools since 2004, 12 years ago!
- Campaigns must start with the community. Colorado is different than any other state. This means that we must have a robust group of volunteers. For a district the size of Jeffco, this means that every parent, community member, and public education supporter must become knowledgeable about the facts and join in to share the information.
- Cookie dough and other school fundraisers are not going to fix the problem.
- Our teachers, administrators, and classified staff cannot make changes alone. They require the assistance of all who touch our public schools.
- The impacts of our 2013 board election, the failed mill and bond for 2016, and the failed mill and bond for 2008 have made and will continue to cause negative impacts to our children.
We are Jeffco. We are known around the state and nation as being strong supporters of our schools. The nation watched us in fascination as we worked together collectively for a result that turned our district around.
Share the facts and correct misinformation you see online as well as in person! If not you, who?
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