Jeffco is the only district in Colorado with an organized and well-funded opposition to funding the education of our children. This is so completely unethical and a such a violation to parents across the county, education advocates who work tirelessly to share facts and donate their time, as well as our great staff serving students day in and day out.
There are about 50 school districts in Colorado asking voters to approve a mill levy and/or bond this year. That’s about 1/3 of the state. This alone should be a wake-up call for voters. But, recently, someone wrote this on social media:
“So what happened to the marijuana tax money? No way I’ll vote yes until there is oversight. Jeffco is infamous for wasting tax payer money.”
This is so untrue, misleading, and short sighted that it boggles the mind while also hurting our children. But, since there are still questions, let’s tackle this with facts and links to the truth and we ask that you share it with ALL of your friends!
Jeffco has cut $63 million since 2009 and been under funded by $481 million due to the negative factor from the state of Colorado. Our students today are funded at a lesser amount than they were in the 1980s and 1990s.
Here are two videos that explain school funding:
What happened to the marijuana money?
Who watches Jeffco’ budget and oversees how money is spent?
The Capitol Asset Advisory Committee:
The Board of Education authorized the establishment of the Capital Asset Advisory Committee in accordance with Policies EL-8 and FB, both of which deal with facility condition and long range facility planning. The Committee was formed from members of the 2005 Capital Improvement Program Oversight Committee and the 2009 Facilities Usage Committee. The purpose of the Committee is to monitor the planning of capital needs and the implementation of capital programs, which may include future bond programs.
Members have a working familiarity with facility design and/or construction practices; business management expertise with organization(s) of comparable size to the district, and are independent and free from any relationship that would interfere with independent judgment. Preference is given to Jefferson County residents.
The Facility Planning and Design Committee
As part of Jeffco Public Schools effort to reduce costs and identify efficiencies, the district examined all areas of operation, including how schools and facilities are used throughout the district. More than 30 community and district volunteers were chosen to serve on a Facilities Usage Committee in early 2009 to help the district determine the most efficient and effective use of its buildings. The work of the Committee will be ongoing.
The Facilities Usage Committee provided options to the district for an efficient use of all district facilities where educational services are provided that align with the Board of Education Ends Policies and the district mission of educating all students for a successful future.
The Financial Oversight Committee
The Board of Education chose citizens from a group of applicants to serve on the District’s Financial Oversight Committee
This group meets at least 10 times a year and has seven business community members
The group meets monthly throughout the school year and the primary function of the oversight committee is to assist the Board of Education in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities by reviewing:
- financial reports and other financial information used internally and provided by the district to any governmental body or the public;
- the district’s systems of internal controls regarding finance, accounting, legal compliance and ethics that management and the Board have established;
- assess the business risk of the district; and the district’s auditing, accounting and financial reporting processes generally.
Consistent with this function, the Financial Oversight Committee should encourage continuous improvement of, and should foster adherence to the district’s policies, procedures and practices at all levels.
Additionally, organizations like Great Education Colorado, the Colorado Fiscal Institute, and the Colorado School Finance Project have done tremendous work for a number of years to educate the community about the issues impacting school funding and the students of Colorado.
Visit their websites!
Great Education Colorado – http://www.greateducation.org/
Colorado Fiscal Institute – http://www.coloradofiscal.org/
Colorado School Finance Project – http://www.cosfp.org/
Jeffco Schools was recognized and awarded for transparency! Jeffco was one of the first school districts to create an online searchable database for the public to use.
The district is committing to providing an easy-to-use, clear view of how taxpayer dollars are spent by listing expenditures by fund. Jeffco’s financial transparency website was recently awarded an “A” by the editors of Sunshine Review.
Editors at Sunshine Review analyzed more than 6,000 government websites and graded each on a 10-point transparency checklist. Editors looked at content available on government websites against what should be provided. They sought information on items such as budgets, meetings, lobbying, financial audits, contracts, academic performance, public records and taxes. The winners of the Sunny Award all received an “A” grade during the extensive grading process. Only 214 websites were awarded!
And there’s more!
The 2012 Bond is nearly complete with projects on-time AND under budget! Look at the tremendous amount of work that’s been done!
Let’s also address the myths and facts!
A handout from another organization is going around that contains a lot of inaccuracies, myths, outright lies, and misleading information. We find it unbelievable and unethical that there are people who spread this kind of misinformation when they know that it impacts more than 86,000 kids. That’s the bottom line. 3A and 3B are about our kids, supporting public education and our future. We are here to correct this information so you have the facts.
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?
Too much administration!
The truth? Jeffco has only 4% administration. That’s lower than nearly every district in the state!
You can oppose taxes all you want. If you choose to do that, then you need to find a way to fund the services our community needs to provide in another way. That’s not through lottery tickets, not through casinos, not through marijuana, and not through any other creative scheme that shows you pictures of children. What you shouldn’t EVER do, is hurt and negatively impact the lives of children by telling lies, spreading misinformation, or inaccuracies about education funding.
Anyone who tells you that 3A and 3B isn’t something you should support should be ashamed of themselves. Why? Because the following are things that are NOT good for our students who already have had their services decreased by $63 million as well as that $481 million in less funds from the state due under Amendment 23 (that voters overwhelmingly approved):
If voters do not approve 3A and 3B, the Board of Education would have to direct staff how to decrease the budget. Some possible impacts:
School closures and consolidations
Year round schools
Changing boundaries and transportation radius
Limited ability to meet basic deferred maintenance
Continuing to lose great staff
Larger class sizes
Higher fees for parents
Lack of resources for student learning
Cutting programs and opportunities for students