Millie Hamner: We’re going back to the voters in November |

Millie Hamner: We’re going back to the voters in November

Millie HamnerGuest Column

As Summit School District staff, students and parents count down the final days of the school year, we reflect on our many successes and accomplishments. We are proud of our caring learners and the growth they made in academics and character. Summit students are something special, and even as we recognize their tremendous achievements, we know there is more work to be done. In November 2007, the Summit School District will have the opportunity to go back to the voters for their consideration of several funding initiatives that will continue to support public education in Summit County. The Board of Education will discuss these financial possibilities between now and August when the final question or questions for the ballot will be finalized. The Board has not yet determined how many questions to place on the November ballot.There are four funding opportunities that the Board is discussing in an ongoing effort to provide the best possible education for our students. Due to increased assessed valuation of property throughout Summit County, supporting all of these initiatives is possible without raising the current school district tax levels of 22.848 mills. Continuing to collect taxes at the current rate will generate critical dollars to increase security and safety and provide needed repairs in all school district facilities, offer a tuition-free all day kindergarten program, and offset increasing costs related to increased student enrollment and rising transportation costs.

1) Continuation of Special Building, Maintenance and Technology Mill Levy. This mill levy which sunsets every three years, was first approved by Summit County voters in 2001 and was renewed in 2004. The purpose of this levy is to allow school districts to build and maintain facilities and to keep up with the pace of technology without competing with general fund dollars. In 2001, voters approved this mill levy. The taxes collected built the new Silverthorne Elementary School and the new Maintenance Building. It also renovated both Breckenridge and Dillon Valley Elementary Schools. In 2004, voters again approved the mill levy which was used to expand Career and Technical program offerings at Summit High School, upgrade computers and labs throughout our schools, and maintain facilities.The Board of Education has identified close to $30 million of facility improvement needs throughout the school district. The Board is considering asking voters to continue this mill levy to provide a portion of these much needed dollars for facility projects for the next three years. These projects will increase security and safety at each of the District’s 10 facilities and continue to protect these valuable assets through preventative maintenance and identified improvements.2) General Fund Override. School districts in Colorado may ask voters for approval of up to 20 percent more funding for operating costs than identified in the School Finance Act. Since our student enrollment has increased by almost 10 percent since 2001 when voters were last asked to approve this funding, the District can collect an additional $708,500 with voter approval of this override.

3) Transportation Mill Levy. School districts are also allowed to seek voter approval of transportation costs for transporting students to and from school. This allows transportation costs to be funded through this special funding source rather than through the general fund dollars. Currently, the district’s costs for transportation have exceeded the $520,000 approved by voters in 1999 and an additional $213,500 can be funded through an increase in this fund. 4) All Day Kindergarten. This year’s Colorado legislature has approved a measure allowing school districts to ask voters to support a full day kindergarten program. Currently, parents of kindergarteners are charged tuition for their children to attend a full-time kindergarten program as the School Finance Act only funds school districts for half funding for each kindergartener. Approval of this measure would generate money to support a full day of kindergarten for all families choosing this program without tuition or fund raising to fund the program.The Board of Education remains committed to working with the Summit School District staff and community to provide a solid financial foundation upon which to continue to build the best educational opportunities for our students.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Millie Hamner can be reached at (970) 668-3011.

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