Amendment 66 benefits us all
A strong and successful public education system is a key factor in the quality of life that any community or state provides. As longtime Colorado educators, we urge you to vote yes on Amendment 66.
Full day kindergarten, for all children, at no cost to parents, and additional early childhood education for at risk children, will both become a reality with the passage of Amendment 66. There is no question that additional time on task in kindergarten, as well as more early childhood education, makes a difference. This important ballot initiative will enable the state of Colorado to set aside 950 million additional, targeted dollars for the State Education Fund. These dollars will help to replace the over one billion dollars that have been cut during the past recession to all school districts in Colorado.
Colorado funds its educational systems $2,000 per pupil below the national average. Amendment 66 would allow us to reduce that deficit by $1,000 per student. At a cost of only $133 per year for the average [Colorado taxpayer], there is very little impact on each individual person while providing big benefits to school districts to address the needs of all of their students. As a state that values education, we can afford to do better than we have done in the past. We do not take the burden of additional taxes lightly, but believe this is a small price to pay for the long-term benefits for all of our children.
This amendment is good for business. When attempting to attract businesses to Colorado, one of the first questions asked is about the quality of the education system and the availability of an educated workforce before moving here.
Much has been said in our region about the Cost of Living Factor being removed from the School Finance Formula during the passage of Senate Bill 213 this past spring. One should look at SB 213 and Amendment 66 as two separate issues. When legislators contemplated the new school finance formula, they had to choose between full day kindergarten for all students in the state vs. the Cost of Living Factor for some of the districts across the state. The formula itself can be altered from year to year, but without a guaranteed revenue stream of dollars going into public education in our state, as through Amendment 66, we cannot hope to address the educational needs of our children in a meaningful manner. While all of the districts in our area are impacted by the loss of the Cost of Living Factor, all are also positively impacted by the additional dollars gained to provide the kind of mass customization that people rightfully want for their children, and that a high quality education must include. Schools today must be nimble enough to meet the needs of all students and progressive enough to prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of the future. It is important to note, that while the cost of living factor is removed, there is not a single district in the state that receives less dollars as a result of this new formula. We must take a stand on the quality of education for all of Colorado’s children. It is for this reason that the Roaring Fork RE-1 School District Board of Education voted to support Amendment 66, as well as the Aspen Skiing Company and many other school districts and businesses across the state.
Our country’s forefathers envisioned a public education system that would set us apart from other countries by providing a level playing field and unlimited opportunities for all. This ballot initiative takes a strong step in furthering that vision by providing an avenue for high quality education for all of our students.
Please support Amendment 66 today on your mail-in ballot. Our children and our communities will benefit for years to come.
Dr. Diana Sirko is the Superintendent of the Roaring Fork School District RE-1 and Mike Sirko is a retired high school dean who is currently the Head Football Coach at Aspen High School.
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