Since 2009, Delta County schools have been underfunded by over $325 million -- funds that could have been used to replace buses, enhance security and increase salaries.
Statewide, investment in education is lagging -- Colorado ranks 48th nationally in personal income invested in education.
A ballot initiative titled "Great Schools, Thriving Communities," would bring Colorado's investment in public education closer to the national average by raising $1.6 billion annually. It's an initiative that has received unanimous support from the Delta County Board of Education.
"Great Schools, Thriving Communities," or Initiative #93, promises to provide sustainable support for schools by stabilizing school property taxes; provide additional funding for all students; and address the most pressing needs of Colorado's public schools -- specifically, funding for all-day kindergarten and a significant increase in funding for early childhood programs, special education programs, at-risk students, English language learners and gifted and talented students.
The Delta County Board of Education would use the new funds to replace the district's aging bus fleet, increase school security and increase employee wages.
The Great Schools, Thriving Communities campaign was inspired by a diverse coalition of education-connected organizations working to advance better and more equitable funding of public schools.
If approved by voters in November, the initiative would create a public education fund financed through higher taxes on incomes above $150,000 and on "C" corporations. Ninety-two percent of filers would see no impact on their individual income taxes.
The initiative ensures that decisions about how to use those new funds would be made at the local level.
To provide sustainable support for schools for years to come, it stabilizes the volatile local share of education funding by first lowering property tax rates and then freezing the rates. The commercial assessment rate would drop from 29 to 24 percent, providing some tax relief while helping to restore the original intent of the Gallagher Amendment.
The measure only applies to property taxes levied by school districts; all other local governments are unaffected by the measure.
More details can be found at greatschools thrivingcommunities.org.