The August 27,2014 Community Forum in Montrose featured a presentation by two members of the local Community School Improvement Team who outlined their plan for a November 4 ballot initiative which would raise property taxes in order to improve school funding. Scott Stryker and Melanie Hall discussed the group's two-year process of gathering community input, and their conclusion that a mill levy override would be the best way to raise the funds they feel are needed to improve student achievement, attract and retain high quality teachers and maintain and upgrade existing school facilities. If passed, the levy would need to be approved every five years by area voters.
According to the group's calculations, the funds resulting from the override would equal approximately $2, 913,000 annually. The per pupil funding in the district would increase by $475 to a total of $6,437. Approximately 25 - 27 additional teachers would be hired in order to reduce class size. Teachers would receive three additional professional development/work days, and the technology available in each classroom would be increased and updated.
During the 2014 - 2015 academic year, property taxes throughout the state are estimated to provide 1.85 billion of the 5.9 billion dollars earmarked to support Colorado public schools under the Public School Finance Act of 1994. Under the proposed override, Montrose County homeowners would pay an additional $4.27 per month for every $100,000 of taxable value. Businesses would be taxed at a higher rate, and would pay $15.55 per month for every $100,000 of taxable value. Generally this tax is considered tax deductible.
The committee had no hard data to confirm or deny whether the mill levy overrides in other Colorado counties were producing higher student achievement. Whether or not the community will vote in another tax increase so soon on the heels of the .3% city sales tax increase just approved to build a new recreation center remains to be seen.
For more information, visit the Yes for Our Schools website.