Our original post noted that the increase would be $3.50 per $100,000 assessed value. That number was based on previous projections, so we’ve corrected the numbers in this post to reflect what was approved on Tuesday night: $4.12 per $100,000.
On Tuesday, the Jeffco School Board approved a motion to put the mill and bond on the November ballot. The ballot question will ask voters to approve a bond package totaling $535 million dollars, and a mill levy override of $33 million.
Also note that we’ve seen some suggestions that this is a “billion dollar bond,” mostly from groups that have struggled in the past to grasp basic math concepts about the Jeffco Schools budget. This is a $535 million bond — just over half a billion — to address aging facilities and fund new construction.
Our friend Tina Gurdikian sent out a newsletter about the topics, and agreed to let us reprint it to explain more about the mill and bond. We’ve cut some portions that refer to the then-upcoming Tuesday meeting.
“Architects of Our Own Solutions” – Jeffco BOE Treasurer, Brad Rupert said this at tonight’s board meeting and I jotted it down ’cause I thought – that pretty much sums it up for me too. We can’t sit back and wait for the state to come through with the funding we need to provide an education for our kiddos that prepares them to be college/career ready. It’s way too late for that, and it just simply isn’t going to happen. Since 2009, when the “negative factor” was implemented, Jeffco Schools have missed out on ~$490 MILLION – and we don’t see an end to the negative factor any time soon, unfortunately. So what are we going to do about it? We are going to be architects of our own solutions!!
Here are a few of the details of the proposed bond issue:
- This is an “extremely favorable interest rate environment” – meaning we can get an excellent interest rate. Typically when you buy a home, you’re told that the actual principal/interest you’ll pay over the life of your loan is 2-3 times the cost of the home. Jeffco can get a rate such that our principal/interest payments are less than 2 times the principal for a term of 25 years.
- This would be a $535M bond with a maximum principal/interest repayment of $987.22M – with a not-to-exceed annual principal/interest payment of $72.6M annually in any given year.
- Essentially we are looking at 4 primary priorities with this bond package:
- Priority 1 – K-5, 6-8 grade reconfiguration
- Priority 2 – growth and/or equity
- Priority 3 – efficiencies
- Priority 4 – deferred maintenance
- What do these priorities mean exactly? You can see the breakout of the proposed capital improvement projects by area and school here so you can see the direct impacts to your children’s schools.
What about the $33M mill levy override? The mill levy override (MLO) is an annual increase to address operational needs (as a result of the negative factor and decreased funding in per pupil revenue from the state), whereas the bond addresses capital/facilities needs. Page 4 gives a great description of the needs to be addressed by the MLO, but I’ll sum up:
- $12.6M – to retain and attract the best and brightest teachers, administrators and staff
- $3.7M (this is something I feel so strongly about) – to provide a half-time counselor for every elementary school
- $800K – for security and emergency management
- $12.2M – increase student-based budgeting (SBB) dollars to schools, especially smaller school hit the hardest by SBB.
- $400K – additional support services needed for the new school at Candelas
- $3.3M – charter school dollars for compensation, curriculum, technology, etc. (10% of the MLO)
So what does this mean for you and your bottom line? Support Jeffco Kids broke it down for us. Per $100,000 of assessed home value, this bond package and MLO – combined – would cost you…$4.12/month. That’s right – if you’re home’s value is $300,000, you’re looking at an increase of $12.36 month.
This is how I, personally, see this. Our daughters swim. A lot. And if your child has ever been on a swim team, you know that breakfast burritos are what EVERYONE eats at a swim meet – considering these crazy summer meets start with warm-ups at 6am! Our team sells burritos for $3.50 each. So to me, it’s like buying a few breakfast burritos a month, right? Are my kids worth it? Heck yeah!
Are your kids worth it? Heck yeah! Remember, it takes a village to raise a child – we are all in this together – whether you have kids or grandkids or none at all, the value of excellent public schools is priceless for a community! Seriously!
Support Jeffco Kids has been really busy this summer. Please check out the following articles they’ve published recently, which shed additional light on some of the issues around the need for the mill/bond:
- Potential Mill and Bond andHandout1 and Handout2
- We Do NOT Have More Than Enough Money, Even If…
- ESPs Matter!
- Return on Investment
- Every Child Deserves an Excellent Education
- Per Pupil Funding Facts
- School as a Business
While I’m talking about facilities needs, let me touch on the other topic of discussion at tonight’s board meeting – contaminated drinking water. Jeffco staff have been very busy this summer testing fixtures in our schools for lead contamination.
Since June 3, the district has tested 80 elementary schools and drawn ~3,500 samples in an effort to ensure drinking water in our schools is safe for our students, staff and parents. By the time school starts, all elementary school fixtures in buildings built before 1990 and all water fountains in elementary schools built after 1990 will have been tested.
Any fixtures found to exceed the 15 parts per billion EPA limit for Lead will be deactivated or labeled “Do Not Drink” depending on the level of Lead detected. While testing of middle and high school fixtures will not be complete by the start of the school year, district staff will work with principals to get the word out to parents to let them know the status of the testing. Bottled water may be provided at older facilities where fixtures have a greater probability of higher Lead levels.
Again, just another example of the types of maintenance district staff face with our aging facilities.
We’ve waited long for additional state money, and it’s not coming. Jeffco needs to find its own solutions to long-deferred maintenance issues and so much more.
Let’s continue to be