Voters in Denver will be asked to approve the biggest school tax package in Colorado history on Nov. 6.
Backers say a perfect storm of increasing enrollment, state funding cuts and aging buildings are the major reasons for the requests for a $466 million school bond issue and a $49 million increase for operating expenses.
If voters approve both measures, property tax bills would increase $5 per month or $62 per year for every $100,000 of a home’s value.
The measures “represent the most critical projects that need to be funded to help our children … have access to the kinds of programs and services that increase their academic achievement,” board President Mary Seawell said at the campaign’s Sept. 9 kickoff rally.
- Yes on 3A+3B supporters’ website
- No on Denver 3B school bond opposition website
- District ballot measures information
- School-by-school list of projects to be funded by bond
- Summary of ballot measures by geographic area
- Summary of new schools and renovations or expansions to increase capacity
“All students will benefit, all schools will see a change,” she said.
If approved, the bond issue would provide $230 million for facility maintenance, $119 million to build six new schools and $78 million to renovate and expand existing schools. The operating tax increase would provide, among other initiatives, $13 million for early childhood education and $11 million for enrichment programs, such as arts, music, physical education.
School board members struggled to find common ground leading up to a 5-2 vote in August on whether to place the tax proposals on the 2012 ballot. The majority of board members enthusiastically endorsed the DPS tax package and have joined the Say Yes to 3A + 3B campaign.
Despite a series of concessions offered to hold-out board members, member Andrea Merida said she could not support the package because of concerns that it didn’t funnel enough resources to older schools in southwest Denver. Member Arturo Jimenez said he would vote in favor of initiatives to be covered by the operating tax increase, but joined Merida in opposing the bond.
Board member Jeannie Kaplan was reluctant in her support. But she joined the board majority after ensuring that open classroom configurations would be fixed, that there would be new measures of accountability built into the system and that due consideration would be given to opening district-run schools, not just charter schools, in growing neighborhoods.
Approval of the operating tax increase would mean the first cost-of-living increase for Denver teachers in years, under an agreement reached between DPS and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association in June. If it’s passed, Denver teachers would receive a 1 percent cost-of-living raise retroactive to Sept. 1. The raise isn’t listed among the tax projects; instead, district leaders say it could be funded because the ballot measure would free up general fund dollars that would have gone to other needs.
EdNews’ stories on DPS ballot measures
- District campaigns bust $1 million mark – Nov. 5
- Fact checking DPS bond measure 3B – Oct. 26
- DPS critic linked to fake Seawell email – Oct. 22
- Low point in Denver Public Schools politics? – Oct. 18
- Big fundraising in DPS campaign – Oct. 17
- Campaigns pit board member against board member – Sept. 28
- Denver board splits 5-2 on tax proposals – Aug. 24
- Questions raised at DPS tax meeting – Aug. 17
- DPS board divided on tax proposals – July 31
- DPS, teachers’ union reach accord – June 19
Other media reports
- Denver Business Journal: Concerns raised over Denver Public Schools ballot measures – Oct. 18
- Denver Post: Colorado schools take case to voters – Oct. 15
- Denver Business Journal: Downtown Denver Partnership, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce endorse DPS ballot measures – Oct. 5
- Denver Post: Denver schools makes a case for $515 million tax increase – Sept. 7
- 9News: School districts use presidential year election turnouts to pass tax measures – Aug. 31
- Denver Post: Denver Public Schools may ask for $500 million property tax increase – June 20
- Denver Business Journal editorial: Vote yes on DPS ballot measures – Oct. 26
- Denver Post editorial: Endorsement: Denver schools need 3A and 3B – Oct. 19
- EdNews Voices column: Contortions of a DPS board member – Oct. 16
- Denver Post commentaries: Pro: Denver’s 3A and 3B, Vote yes for schools and Con: Denver’s 3B unfairly favors charters – Oct. 14
- EdNews Voices commentaries: Pro: Why I’m voting yes on Denver’s 3A and 3B and Con: Why I’m against Denver’s school bond issue – Oct. 11