District 50 is looking at its budget options after voters rejected a proposal to raise revenues via a mill levy override and bond in last week’s election.
Ballot Measure 3C, which would have raised $2.5 million via a mill levy override, lost by a margin of 53% to 47%. Ballot Measure 3D, a $20 million bond proposal, lost by a margin of 58% to 42%.
Similar measures in other Adams County school districts also failed at the polls, in most instances, by even larger margins.
Superintendent Pamela Swanson sent a letter to community members thanking them for their efforts and vowing to do everything possible to minimize the impact the failed election will have on students. Last year voters rejected a $5.25 million mill levy override forcing the District to cut $3.8 million from the current budget.
The loss of the bond election will delay plans to bring air conditioning to District 50 schools that have not been retrofitted in recent years. It’s not clear when any of those projects can go forward.
Swanson also told community members that the only real solution to the education funding crisis in Colorado is for state lawmakers to reexamine the school finance formula and provide more funds to rural districts and districts (like District 50) with a high number of “at risk” students.
She wrote, “as proven by the growing achievement gap, ‘status quo’ is unacceptable.” She added, “I encourage you to reach out to your elected officials and make them fully aware of what is at stake for our state and our communities.”
Board of Education members commented on the election results at this week’s regularly scheduled meeting.
Ken Ciancio - “The community has spoken, two years in a row. Their message to us is clear and we will bite the bullet and do what is necessary to balance our budget and stretch the dollars as far as we can.”
Joe Davidek - “Now we have to deal with the remnants of the election and to be frank, it’s not going to be pretty.”
Ryan McCoy - “The fight now is at the state level. The state needs to start investing in education if we want to move forward as a state.”
Dino Valente - ´’I don’t have any regrets about anything we have done, but we have to move forward. It’s time to take this to the voters on the statewide level.”
Ruben Pacheco - “I am happy we had such participation from our community. We listened to our community and will be very deliberate about what we do. This is a time for us to work.”
Governor John Hickenlooper’s proposed budget for the coming year requests an additional $200 million for K-12 education to come from the State Education Fund. While educators would welcome the money, it’s important to note that it is “one time” money that cannot be used ongoing expenses. It’s also not clear how much money the legislature will allocate to education.
You can read Swanson’s letter to the community below.
Dear District 50 Parents and Community Members:
As you are probably aware, District 50’s ballot measures to raise
revenues to support district operations and increase funding for capital
building projects, the Bond Proposal and the Mill Levy Override, 3C and
3D, were turned down by voters in this week’s election. While the
outcome of our second attempt is not what I had hoped for, I want to
thank the parents, staff and community members who worked so hard on our
election efforts. In spite of the results, it was gratifying to see
people come together in support of such a worthy cause.
So where do we go from here?
Our first priority is to try to minimize the impact the election loss
will have on our children and their education. In recent years, we
have made consistent, steady academic progress in spite of limited
resources and we plan to continue that effort. Even before this week’s
election, I have been working with staff members to develop a budget
plan to move us forward in case we were unsuccessful at the ballot. We
will be forced to make some difficult choices in the weeks ahead and I
will keep you informed.
While I have repeatedly joined superintendents from across Colorado
in asking the state to invest more money in public education, I believe
the funding problem goes much deeper. It has become very clear to me
that our state lawmakers must immediately step forward to address the
inequities in how education dollars are allocated in Colorado. As
proven by the growing achievement gap, “status quo” is unacceptable.
Students in districts with a large number of “at risk” students are
falling behind and educators in our rural communities are struggling to
provide their students with the basics needed to properly educate their
I encourage you to reach out to your elected officials and make them
fully aware of what is at stake for our state and our communities.
Again, thank you for your continued support of our children.
Dr. Pamela Swanson
Superintendent of Schools