Myth-Busting the Jeffco Schools 3B Bond

As we’ve explained in previous posts, voters are being asked to approve mill levy override and bond issue on this fall’s ballot, known as 3A and 3B. We’ve seen a lot of false statements by the anti-tax crowd that opposes it, so today we’d like to separate fact from fiction regarding the bond.

LogicFail

Myth: 3B will increase the amount residents pay in property taxes in 15 years.

Fact: This bond is structured like recent previous bonds, such as those in 2004. It is a 25-year bond and the financial piece has been organized to make sure the burden to the taxpayers is consistent throughout the next 25 years.  

Those perpetuating the myth that the costs will go up have forgotten that Jeffco will pay off previous bonds during this time period, which will allow them to keep the cost to taxpayers the same, whether taxpayers are paying their taxes next year or in twenty.

Myth(s): Too much (or not enough) of the bond is being allocated to new schools. Too much (or not enough) of the bond is being allocated to Jeffco’s maintenance backlog. Too much (or not enough) of the bond will be used for additions to existing schools.

Fact: The bond balances the district’s need for new schools in growing areas of the county, with the ability to create efficiencies by adding classrooms to some existing buildings rather than construct entirely new schools.

The reality is that in some areas, more classrooms at an existing school will address our students’ needs, while in other areas — particularly those that were mere fields back in 2008 — need an entirely new school. All of our existing schools also have maintenance needs, and part of the bond will also be used to address the most critical needs.

Myth: All sorts of bond money will be wasted on fees and overruns.

Fact: Any good bond will be structured so that the projects in the bond won’t exceed the value of the bond.

If you’ve done any kind of major renovation of your house, you know that the initial cost estimate is just that: an estimate. The cost of construction materials alone has skyrocketed in Jeffco in the past years as building has boomed, and those costs also affect any construction and maintenance done to our schools.

If the bond didn’t include contingency dollars and the cost of supplies inflates even more, either the school would be forced to come back and ask for more money to complete the promised projects, or they’d have to tell certain communities, “sorry, we wanted to do that but we ran out of money.”

Structuring the bond to account for inflation and to make sure that projects will not exceed the bond amount is smart financial planning — and the reason that the Jeffco Schools Financial Oversight Committee encouraged the school board members to put 3A and 3B on the ballot.

Myth: This is a “billion dollar bond.”

Fact: This is a $535 million bond and calling it anything else is just plain silly.

A bond is a lot like a mortgage. Schools borrow the amount they need, and they pay it back with interest. If you borrow $80,000 for a mortgage, you call it an $80,000 mortgage even though you’ll pay much more than that with interest. 3B isn’t any different.

The district has typically included the entire payback amount in the ballot language. While we agree that the payback amounts are shocking to see (and for that matter, think that about car payments and our own mortgages too!), there’s nothing unusual here.

As a comparison, the 2012 ballot for the voter-approved $99 million warm, safe and dry bond read as follows:

SHALL JEFFERSON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT R-1’S DEBT BE INCREASED $99 MILLION WITH A MAXIMUM REPAYMENT COST OF $195 MILLION OR SUCH LESSER AMOUNT AS MAY BE NECESSARY, AND SHALL JEFFERSON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT R-1’S TAXES BE INCREASED $19.8 MILLION ANNUALLY OR SUCH LESSER AMOUNT AS MAY BE NECESSARY FOR THE PAYMENT OF SUCH DEBT …

Here’s the language in this fall’s ballot:

SHALL JEFFERSON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT R-1’S DEBT BE INCREASED $535 MILLION WITH A REPAYMENT COST OF $987.22 MILLION OR SUCH LESSER AMOUNT AS MAY BE NECESSARY, AND SHALL JEFFERSON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT R-1’S TAXES BE INCREASED $72.6 MILLION ANNUALLY OR SUCH LESSER AMOUNT AS MAY BE NECESSARY FOR THE PAYMENT OF SUCH DEBT….

Let’s compare them.

2012

  • $99 million bond
  • Total payment to not exceed $195 million

2016

  • $535 million bond
  • Total payment not to exceed $987.22 million.

The repayment is similar, except in 2016 the district is able to make a better deal thanks to low interest rates. If this bond was structured the same as the 2012 $99 million bond, it actually could have had a total payment that is $71.56 million more.

We’re no math whizzes, but we think saving more than $71 million by borrowing now is a pretty good deal.

The 3B bond is a strategic, thoughtful decision that will allow Jeffco to repair, update, and build well-maintained schools for our students. We encourage you to vote Yes on 3A and 3B and hope you will encourage others to do the same.

Have you voted yet? If not, remember that you can drop off your ballot at any of the county’s drop boxes, send it by mail (though use 2 stamps just to be on the safe side.

Every vote counts, and we hope you will support 3A and 3B. Please also help us get out the vote by encouraging others to turn in their ballot and then use this fabulous profile picture to encourage even more voters to turn their ballots in too. Thank you!

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JeffCo Proud!

Leyden Rock Developer Supports 3A/3B: Schools Key to Property Values

We wanted to be sure you saw this letter from Chris Elliott, the developer of the Leyden Rock neighborhood. He notes,

A good quality school district has a significant impact on home values for new and long term ownership.

The key benefit to property owners that don’t have school age children is the property values they enjoy.

Jefferson County home values are significantly higher than surrounding districts because of the excellence of JeffCo Schools.

We support your efforts regarding measures 3A/3B and look for a successful passage of both of them.

We need to spread these messages. More than 70 percent of Jeffco voters do not have children in school, but as this developer points out, excellent schools improve property values. Jeffco Schools 3A and 3B is an investment in the Jeffco community.

And we need your help to share this information. You can help in multiple ways:

Thank you for investing in passing 3A & 3B on November 8. Every donation and effort will make success that much more likely.

3A3B

JeffCo Proud!

Join Us in Voting Yes on 3A & 3B

Jeffco School Board Watch began when our district was controlled by a board majority who did not have Jeffco students’ best interests at heart. Last year, those three board members were recalled by two-thirds of the vote, and five new school board members took office a few days later. Now we have a school board working together to ensure all 86,000 Jeffco students receive a high-quality education that prepares them for their future. But our work has not ended. Next we must ensure Jeffco voters support 3A and 3B, the mill and bond. Our next several posts will address the importance of these two measures in greater detail, but overall, here’s why we at Jeffco School Board Watch will be voting Yes on 3A and 3B and why we hope you’ll join us:

The Mill Levy Override – 3A

The mill, 3A, will provide an additional $33 million in operating dollars that will benefit all of Jeffco’s neighborhood, option, and charter schools. Jeffco has received $481 million less in state funding over the past five years, and the state warns we should brace for more cuts. Issue 3A provides a local solution – dollars that will stay in Jeffco and benefit Jeffco students.

Specifically, those dollars will allow Jeffco to expand music, art, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), and vocational programming in schools, while also providing more school-level budget funding (Student Based Budgeting or SBB) so schools can best serve the needs and interests of their individual student populations. The mill will also provide extra financial support for Jeffco’s smallest neighborhood schools to address their unique budget challenges, and distribute an equal portion of funding to Jeffco’s charter schools. And, Issue 3A will fund increased mental health support for schools, including a half-time counselor at every elementary school, and will provide additional dollars for security and emergency management.

The Bond – 3B

The bond, 3B, will provide $535 million in funding to construct new schools, address a backlog of repairs, update security systems, and add educational opportunities for Jeffco’s sixth grade students by moving them to middle school. Jeffco has a growing repair and maintenance backlog, and has not had money to invest in new classroom space since the 2004 bond passed. Again, Issue 3B provides a local solution, and the dollars will stay in Jeffco and benefit Jeffco students.

Specifically, 3B will provide funding to construct three new elementary schools in overcrowded areas of Jeffco. The funds will also allow the district to replace four aging schools, and renovate or build additions at 45 other schools. Plus, 110 schools will receive much-needed and long-overdue repairs and upgrades. Jeffco students will benefit from updated technology and lab spaces. And those in sixth grade will have access to more academic and elective options in middle schools.

Together, 3A and 3B are an investment in Jeffco’s future that will cost just $4.12 per month for every $100,000 of home value.

How You Can Help

To help get these measures passed, please consider walking door to door, or calling voters, or writing a letter to the editor. Pick up and display a yard sign, and print this sign for your car window.
yeson3aand3b
Finally, please consider donating to ensure every Jeffco voter receives factual information about the mill and bond. If you’ve already donated, thank you! Please consider another donation to help the campaign reach their goal.

We here at Jeffco School Board Watch thank you for all you’ve already done and all you will be doing to help Jeffco pass 3A & 3B November 8.

3A3B

JeffCo Proud!

3A & 3B – How You Can Help (Thank you!!)

Because we have such a far-reaching list of followers, we wanted to dedicate a post to how you can help the Jeffco Schools mill and bond campaignYes on 3A & 3B.

Canvassing

Also known as door-knocking, canvassing is one of the most important and effective ways of reaching voters – especially the 70+% who aren’t associated directly with Jeffco schools. It’s simple – you just walk from home to home in designated neighborhoods talking to people about the importance of 3A & 3B for Jeffco students.

You can sign up to walk in your neighborhood and others throughout Jeffco. It’s even better when you walk with a friend. Training and all materials are provided.

Information Tables

Another great way to help is by volunteering at a school or library information table. Again, all materials are provided. You simply pass out campaign information and answer any basic questions people may have. You don’t have to be an expert – it is always OK to offer to have the campaign chair – Bill Bottoms – or one of the campaign co-chairs – Frank DeAngelis, Angela Geier or Chris Webber – get back to interested voters. To help with a school information table, contact one of these amazing area chairpeople:

Support Jeffco Kids is also arranging information tables at area libraries. You can sign up here to help with that effort.

Easy, Free Publicity

Feeling artistic? Help paint car windows with 3A & 3B messages. Or, help pass out 3A & 3B campaign literature at area events. Contact Melissa at melissa@monoski.com for more information.

Campaign Presentation

Arrange to have someone from the campaign speak at your next Garden Club meeting, HOA meeting, Book Club or other gathering. Contact Melissa at melissa@monoski.com to schedule.

PTA Advocacy

Vital funding to upgrade security and technology, keeping quality teachers in the classroom and ensuring students have the necessary skills for college and the workforce – all benefits of 3A & 3B and all reasons why Jeffco PTA endorsed the two ballot measures. For information on how to get your school to add its name to the growing list of PTAs endorsing the mill and bond, contact Katie Winner at Katie.Winner@nyu.edu.

Yard Signs

Display a yard sign (here’s where you can get one). And, if you are or know the owner of a parcel of land or a business where a “Yes on 3A/3B” banner would be seen by many Jeffco voters, please email Suzanne Adams at spavelka74@yahoo.com.

Meet with Board Members

Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education members are hosting community forums this fall so you can talk with them about current happenings in our school district. They’ll share updates on topics such as Jeffco 2020, budget, and the mill and bond ballot initiatives and you’ll have plenty of time for questions and discussion:

  • 9/28, 6-7pm – Wheat Ridge High School Library
  • 10/10, 6-7pm – Bear Creek High School Library
  • 10/11, 6-7pm – Columbine High School Library
  • 10/17, 6-7pm – Pomona High School Library
  • 10/25, 6-7pm – Evergreen Firehouse

Bottom Line

Our community has accomplished amazing things when we’ve all come together for an important cause. A very sincere thank you from all of us here at Jeffco School Board Watch to all of you for anything and everything you can do to help Jeffco pass the mill and bond November 8.

3A3B

JeffCo Proud!

Jeffco 3A & 3B Basics: Big Year for Mill & Bond Elections

Continuing our series on why the Jeffco School Board is asking for a mill and bond this year, today’s post focuses on the bigger picture — what other districts are doing to address Colorado’s education funding shortage.

We’ll give you a hint – ballot measures for mill levy overrides and bonds are on the ballot in more than 50 districts around our state. Denver, Aurora and Jeffco combined are seeking over $1.4 billion in bonds alone, and across the state, school funding ballot initiatives top $4 billion.

One big factor: our state’s “negative factor,” which says the state can give schools less funding than actually mandated by Colorado’s school funding formula. The Colorado School Finance Project believes this approach has plummeted Colorado’s per-pupil spending to 40th in the US, when we should be closer to 28th if the negative factor funds were actually given to our school districts. Without this funding, school districts across Colorado struggle to offer competitive salaries and maintain their buildings.

Here in Jeffco, hiring salaries are below the average of the five most comparable nearby districts – sometimes as much as 16% lower. In the last few years, Jeffco’s teacher turnover has steadily risen,  and our current school board has made it clear that they want Jeffco to be the first choice for the best teachers.

This year, our board used one-time dollars to provide modest pay increases for employees. That compensation level can only continue if the mill levy override passes.

The 3A mill dollars will also ensure increased mental health support for schools, increased security, increased Student Based Budgeting funding for all schools, increased support services, and equitable allocations to all charter schools. This ensures Jeffco students will receive the education necessary to prepare them for college and careers. And these dollars will stay in Jeffco.

Jeffco also has significant and growing maintenance and improvement needs at its 155 schools. Should the bond pass, 110 schools will receive much-needed improvements, technology updates, repairs and lab upgrades. Additionally, 45 schools and facilities will receive long-overdue renovations and additions, including new classroom space – something that has not been added since the 2004 bond passed. And, four schools will be replaced and three new elementary schools built.

Some are asking why maintenance on existing schools has been deferred so long. Quite simply, funding has fallen far short of the level it needs to be to offer competitive salaries and maintain schools. Funding has been so inadequate that Jeffco has fallen farther behind our neighboring districts in compensation while also deferring growing maintenance needs in order to protect funds going to classrooms.

Jeffco is not alone in this funding crisis – which is why we see 50 districts around our state asking voters to approve additional resources  Of the seven largest districts in Colorado, six have funding initiatives on the November ballot.

Jeffco, with 86,000 students, is asking for a total of $568 million – and has not had money to spend on new square footage in schools since 2004. That’s 12 years!

Denver, with more than 90,000 students, is asking for $628 million – that’s on top of the nearly $1 billion Denver voters have already approved over the past 8 years.

Cherry Creek has about 55,000 students, and is asking voters to approve $273.9 million in new funding. Cherry Creek voters also approved $150 million four years ago.

Aurora, with about 42,000 students, hopes voters will approve $350 million.

Boulder, with about 31,000 students, has reached funding caps, but can ask voters for an additional $10 million under the newly passed Debt Free Schools Act.

Rounding out the seven largest districts, Adams 12 Five Star, with just under 40,000 students, hopes for an additional $350 million, and Douglas County, with nearly 67,000 students, is still considering options.

For our visual learners, here’s a table comparing the ballot measures of several districts. 2016 Mill Bond Comparisons

2016 Mill Bond Comparisons Graphic1

2016 Mill Bond Comparisons Graphic2
This November, communities across our state will be asked to shore up their local schools to ensure the best education and opportunities for their students.
Poudre School District Board President Cathy Kipp speaks for all these communities when she writes,
The alternative to this plan is not pretty. It involves expensive temporary solutions, which come straight out of the school district’s general fund and negatively impact the education of all our students. This is the way schools are built and maintained in Colorado, by the will of our voters.
Here in Jeffco, voting Yes on 3A/3B will mean safe, well-maintained classrooms and buildings. It will mean ensuring our Jeffco Schools continue to be some of the best in the area. It will mean a better future for our students and our community.

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To volunteer to help the Yes on 3A/3B campaign, visit Support Jeffco Schools. And please pass along this information so more voters have the facts.

JeffCo Proud!