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Will Coloradans raise their taxes to fund schools?

Dozens of district have funding measures on ballot
Posted at 11:46 AM, Nov 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-05 13:46:55-05

A big question Colorado voters will answer on Tuesday is whether or not they're willing to raise their own taxes to pay for teacher salaries, school improvements and other educational needs.

One of the most talked-about measures on the statewide ballot is Amendment 73, which raises money for education by changing the state’s flat income tax system to a progressive tax. This would create a bracket system and raise taxes for individuals earning over $150,000 per year. 

Metro State University Denver professor Gregory Clifton said while this may be new for Colorado, it's a familiar concept.

"This sort of philosophy we have as Americans that as your income increases you should pay a greater percentage of tax — that's this progressive tax system that we have at the federal level," he said.

While Amendment 73 would not raise taxes for 92 percent of Coloradans, a number of school districts are asking for property tax increases in the form of bond measures and mill levy overrides.

The funding requests vary by district, but could raise property taxes between $44 and $99 per $100,000 of assessed home value. With assessed values in the metro ranging from the $300,000s to $400,000s, that could mean an annual property tax increase of more than $200.

"We're appreciative and grateful for the funds that come from our taxpayers to our district," said Jeffco Public Schools Superintendent Jason Glass. "We know that people support public education but they want to make sure the money is going into classrooms, going into schools and impacting students."

School districts have made moves to be transparent about how they would spend both the money from their own bond measures and mill levy overrides, as well as funding from Amendment 73.

Here's a breakdown of the school funding measures on the ballot in metro area districts, courtesy of the Colorado School Finance Project. Click on the links for more details.

Adams 12 Five Star Schools

  • MLO
  • $27,000,000
  • Key investments include: Attracting & retaining high-quality teachers &staff by offering competitive wages; improving student safety by further securing buildings; expanding vocational, job-training, & career-focused programs; reducing class sizes.

Aurora Public Schools

  • MLO
  • $35,000,000
  • Provide annual funding investing in key areas that support student health, safety and learning

Douglas County Schools

  • Bond
    • $250,000,000
    • Address capital needs including building systems and components (such as HVAC), security at all schools, information technology, and transportation, fix all Tier 1 needs identified in the DCSD Master CapitalPlan and increase programmatic offerings including career and technical
  • MLO
    • $40,000,000
    • Address teacher/staff pay and school level funding; provide counselors at elementary schools; reduce counselor to student ratios at middle and high schools

Jeffco Public Schools

  • Bond
    • $567,000,000
    • Safety and security, building modernization and upkeep, career/technical education options
  • MLO
    • $33,000,000
    • Attracting and retaining quality teachers and staff, mental health and counseling support, expanded career-technical / workforce-readiness programming

Littleton Public Schools

  • Bond
  • $298,000,000
  • Replacement of schools and other capital construction needs

Thompson School District

  • Bond
    • $149,000,000
    • Upgrading school building safety, security and fire alarm systems to meet current code and state mandates; repairing maintenance backlog issues identified at every school in the district; constructing a new K-8 school;adding classroom additions to two elementary schools in high growth area of the district
  • MLO
    • $13,800,000
    • Maintaining current class sizes and pupil-teacher ratios; increasing compensation to attract and retain and remain regionally competitive;updating textbooks, curriculum, materials, technology; increasing and upgrading security in schools, including expansion of School Resource Officer program.