OURAY – Although the Colorado Association of School Boards is urging school districts across the state to issue resolutions in support of Amendment 66, proposed legislation appearing on November’s ballot that seeks to radically restructure the way public education is funded in Colorado, the Ouray School Board agreed at its most recent meeting not to take an official stance on the legislation.
Amendment 66 seeks to repair education funding formulas for Colorado, which ranks among the lowest states in the nation when it comes to the amount of state funds spent per pupil on K-12 public education. The legislation proposes amending the Colorado Constitution and the Colorado Statutes to change how the state funds public preschool through twelfth grade education by raising taxes to increase the amount of money available, changing how the state distributes funding to school districts and requiring a fixed percentage of revenue from certain taxes be set aside annually for schools.
In all, the proposed legislation would bring in close to $1 billion in new revenues for public education in Colorado. Superintendent Scott Pankow said, however, that the Ouray School District would actually experience a net loss of $14,000 in revenues if Amendment 66 passes,ultimately compelling the community to approve a higher mil levy to support the school district to keep funding at current levels.
“The board believes it would be hard to support anything where the taxes of our local support base would go up, yet we wouldn’t see any benefit for our district,” Pankow said.
Pankow added that the legislation has plenty of positive aspects. “Some of the good things that I like are the support for preschool and kindergarten,” he noted.
But, he and other Ouray School Board members agreed, the proposed legislation is so complex, with has so many moving targets, that “the unknown pieces of this make you pause,” Pankow said.
“We are not against it, but would like to have some more clarity. What public schools need is some certainty around finance, not just formulas.”
Board President Mike Fedel agreed, saying that after spending hours reading the bill that led to the proposed amendment, and studying the effects it would have on the Ouray School District, he emerged more mystified than ever. “When there is a quadratic equation in a bill, there may be a problem,” he wryly noted. “There is mass confusion out there. This is a very complex bill.”
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