Measure 4A: Summit County votes to divert kindergarten money to teacher pay, mental health |

Measure 4A: Summit County votes to divert kindergarten money to teacher pay, mental health

Kindergarteners Scout Meyer and Owen Olszweski say goodbye to their parents and head to Breckenridge Elementary for their first day of school on Thursday, Aug. 29.
Liz Copan /

FRISCO — Voters in Summit County passed Measure 4A, which will divert funds meant to pay for full-day kindergarten in Summit School District toward teacher pay and behavioral health services for students.

The measure passed overwhelmingly, with 5,914 votes, or 70%, for the measure and 2,503 votes, or 30%, against.

The measure was placed on the ballot by the school district after the state passed a law earlier this year funding full-day kindergarten statewide and banning local taxes meant to raise funds to pay for or subsidize full-day kindergarten.

Without the voter-approved change, the existing mill levy passed by Summit voters in 2007 would have lapsed, and the money would have been refunded to voters. The mill levy is in the amount of 0.429 mills, which will raise $950,000 in 2020.

Going forward, two-thirds of the mill levy revenue will go toward increasing base pay for district teachers and staff with the other one-third being used to fund school counseling and mental health programs for Summit students.

“We are grateful for our Summit County voters and community for your continued support of Summit School District schools, students and staff,” Superintendent Kerry Buhler said in a statement. “Without increasing taxes, the funding from ballot Measure 4A will stay locally in Summit County to allow Summit School District to attract and retain quality teachers and staff and enhance school counseling and mental health programs for students. The mill levy funding will positively impact our learning environment by continuing our commitment to serve our staff and students, who will then serve our community and create a better world.”

The pay for teachers and staff is meant to help the district keep up with Summit’s high cost of living.

“When it comes to retaining our current teachers, we recognize the high cost of living up here and how difficult it is for teachers and staff to live here,” district Director of Business Services Kara Drake said earlier this month. “We feel anything we can do to improve teacher salary helps us keep the high quality teachers and staff we already have as well as recruiting new teachers by having a strong salary schedule.

For behavioral health, funds would go toward increasing the number of school counselors at the elementary school level as well as providing additional mental health programs districtwide.

“We know there’s a lot of good research around programs that can help students when they have these mental health needs,” Drake also said.

The measure was opposed by Mike Tabb, chairman of the Summit County Republican Party, who argued it would effectively become a tax increase if assessed property values increase. He also objected to overly broad language allowing the district to divert money to other purposes and to more funding for the district when enrollment has not increased despite $11 million in increased funding since the 2015-16 school year.

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