A Letter to the Editor from 1999
The following was shared with us by a mother in Jeffco. Her daughter has since graduated but she remains an incredible advocate for our students. Take a look:
May 10, 1999
I am a 10-year-old girl in the 4th grade. I love my school, Hackberry Hill, especially gym and music. I am in the G/T program. I am in choir, and am thinking about taking band next year. I am also very sensitive; I cried when I heard about the Columbine shooting; I cry at sad movies, like Simon Birch. I also have a fierce kung-fu fighter side; when anger strikes, it boils inside me until I burst. I like to write stories on this very computer. I am big for my age; I am five feet tall. I am not very different from most kids at my school.
I was very angry when I heard that I might not have music next year. My mother said that this was because people would not pay extra taxes for schools. I felt sad, because this means that some people aren’t paying extra even for their children’s education. I feel as though my blood is boiling, and I have a headache.
My music teacher, Ms. Sue Mogan, is very wonderful, and I would hate to lose her. She teaches choir and orchestra. Sometimes, she puts big clefs and notes on the floor, and we learn the musical alphabet. She has fifteen xylophones and two pianos for us to learn songs such as “Raiders March,” “Star Wars,” and “Meet the Flintstones.”
I would also hate to lose my future band teacher, Ms. Judy Fitch. Several of my classmates, including Rachel, Kirk, Leah, and Linda, already attend band, and seem to like it very well.
We would hate to lose those wonderful teachers, all of us at Hackberry Hill Elementary School. Why would we get up early for choir? Or rush out the door for band? Or dig through the coat rooms for our violins? The answer is, to do what we love, and see these teachers.
Please help us!
Lauren Archer Seegmiller
So many things are still the same. Sue Mogan is still teaching at Hackberry Hill. She still teaches choir and orchestra on her own time, for free, outside of school hours. Students still line up for her classes and parents still love the program and worship Sue for her efforts. She’s built a legacy of enrichment.
Parents, like Lauren’s, advocated successfully after watching their students lose important educational opportunities. Parents are still having to advocate for funding, partially due to TABOR and the negative factor.
So much is riding on the election again this year. Jeffco Schools has cut $63 million in services out of it’s budget since 2009 and none of those services have been restored to our children. Due to the negative factor, the district has $481 million less in funding on top of the cuts that have been made.
Though the voters did approve a Band-Aid increase in 2012, the district STILL made $6 million in cuts that year. People who are advocating against funding schools have said that the district should have asked for more in 2012 (during the recovery from the recession) – so why would they now advocate against funding and give out so much misinformation? In 2008, voters said no to a mill and bond. So, we haven’t made a decision to make an investment in our schools since 2004. Twelve years ago.
There is a unique opportunity for Jeffco Schools to catch up on needed improvements and repairs due to extremely low interest rates.
An interesting as well as concerning fact – we currently fund our students at a rate LESS than those students who graduated in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Our students today deserve more opportunities and restored services. Jeffco voters have an opportunity to make a difference and the money is guaranteed to stay in Jeffco and only serve Jeffco students.
It’s up to the voters to decide to give our Jeffco students increased opportunities and start restoring the $63 million in services that have been cut. It’s up to the voters to go inside our schools, with an average age of 45 years, and realize that we’ve allowed the neglect by not investing. It’s up to the voters to do the right thing now and Support Jeffco Kids!
Please, learn about 3A and 3B and look at the facts.
What is 3A?
3A is a Mill Levy Override that will provide $33 million in operating expenses specifically to be used for:
- Continuing Jeffco’s commitment to education excellence by attracting and retaining high-quality teachers and support staff through a transparent and competitive compensation system;
- Providing students with the instruction, skills and hands-on learning necessary for success in college and the workplace, through the expansion of “STEM” programs (science, technology, math, and engineering), as well as arts, music and vocational programs;
- Increasing school security resources including additional counselors and student support professionals inside and outside the classroom, school safety education and liaisons to police, fire and 911 dispatch centers.
What is 3B?
3B is a Bond for capital funding that will provide $535 million for long-term costs including:
- Providing safety and security upgrades in school buildings;
- 110 elementary, middle and high school buildings will receive repairs and improvements long overdue including roofs, plumbing, electrical, lighting and mechanical systems; providing more opportunities for Jeffco students to learn in safe and quality learning environments by extending the life of these existing schools and better utilization of district facilities.
- Equipping our schools with updated technology to ensure all Jeffco students have access to learning tools to better prepare them for college and the workforce;
- Improving and repairing Outdoor Lab, Jeffco’s nature and science learning center;
- Better utilization of district resources by expanding and equipping old and new school buildings, increasing classroom space and learning labs, and equipping and furnishing them.
Will 3A and 3B benefit students in the classroom?
Yes. 3A and 3B will provide students with the instruction, skills and hands‐on learning necessary for success in college and the workplace, through the expansion of “STEM” programs, that is science, technology, math, and engineering, as well as arts, music and vocational programs.
Will 3A and 3B benefit all Jeffco schools?
Yes, 3A and 3B will benefit neighborhood, option and public charter schools.
Will 3A and 3B impact Jeffco’s ability to attract and retain good teachers?
Yes. A good teacher in the classroom can make all the difference in a student’s success. 3A will allow us to attract and retain high quality teachers and staff. In Jeffco, our teachers took a pay cut to help balance the district’s budget, and most are bringing home less today than in 2008 due to health insurance costs. We must have a competitive compensation system to ensure we don’t lose our well-trained and highly effective teachers to other school districts.
Will student safety and security be impacted?
Yes. 3A and 3B will allow us to upgrade safety and security in school buildings as well as increase student security resources including additional counselors and student support professionals inside and outside the classroom, school safety education and liaisons to police, fire, and 911 dispatch centers.
Will Jeffco finally be able to address much needed repairs and upgrades in our schools long overdue?
Yes. The average school building in Jefferson County is 45 years old. Many of the heating and cooling systems, boilers, and plumbing are out-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. 3A and 3B will allow the district to make these much needed repairs.
If 3A and 3B pass in November, will the money stay in Jeffco?
Yes. 3A and 3B will directly benefit Jeffco students. Dollars will be spent on Jeffco schoolsand will not leave the district.
Can’t Jeffco just ask the state for more dollars?
No. Unfortunately, the state has no more dollars to give. We cannot wait for the state to find a solution and continue the level of excellence citizens expect from Jeffco schools.
What happened to the marijuana money?
JEFFCO has received no funds from the marijuana tax. According to Chris Stiffler, an economist for the Colorado Fiscal Institute: “By law, the first $40 million of the state excise tax collections goes to fund capital improvements for schools in rural areas, where it’s much harder to raise money to fix roofs, replace air conditioning systems or build an annex. …none of the money collected on marijuana goes for operating costs in school districts. The remaining pot tax revenue that doesn’t go to fix rural schools goes to marijuana education, treatment, regulation and enforcement programs.
The pot revenue hasn’t offset big cuts in K-12 funding that have occurred in recent years as a result of the so-called “negative factor” that has reduced school funding by $800 million below the level of where it was before the cuts. Colorado has dropped from 23rd in per pupil funding in 1992 to 40th now, and our per pupil funding is now $2,000 below the national average.” http://www.denverpost.com/2016/08/12/why-pot-taxes-cant-solve-colorados-budget-problems/
How much will 3A and 3B cost?
Issues 3A and 3B will cost approximately $4.12 per month per $100,000 of home value. This will cost the average homeowner in Jeffco approximately $11.70 a month.