Yes on 3A and 3B for good schools
When it comes to building and maintaining a great community, good schools are the most critical building block. The fact is indisputable and nonnegotiable.That is why the Summit Daily News endorses the Summit School District’s special mill levy and bond issue questions on the Nov. 2 ballot. The mill levy will appear as Question 3A. The bond issue is 3B.The mill levy, formally known as the Special Building, Maintenance and Technology Fund, is the most important of the two. It is a smaller version of a similar mill levy voters OK’d in 2001.For those who count the mills on their tax bills, the mill levy count goes from 7.62 to 3.37 mills. A homeowner paying taxes on a house valued at $400,000 will save about $135 a year with Question 3A.Even at that, the mill levy provides $2.6 million a year in financing for school building maintenance, a lot of it still catch-up work from the 1990s when budget cuts favored education over buildings.Another $1.4 million a year would support career and technical education programs at Summit High School and technology improvements at the rest of the schools. If voters were to pull back the mill levy, money now flowing into maintenance and technology would be taken from the general education budget. Programs and people would be cut. It’s a fact.In Colorado, education funding is set by state law, but local jurisdictions can improve upon the formula with special mill levies that sunset every three years. The 2001 mill levy, by diverting maintenance money from the general budget, allowed administrators to increase teacher pay and improve educational offerings.The gamble is losing the mill levy on subsequent elections. That’s where we are Nov. 2, gambling that Summit voters want the best schools possible.It didn’t look like such a gamble in 2001 when school administration was stable under superintendent Wes Smith, who influenced the legislature to authorize the mill levy technique.Since then, the Spampinato superintendent firing and issues of school board members sending their children to private schools have undermined the politics of good schools.We don’t believe the children should be punished for adult follies, although we know some out there believe the mill levy and bond issue are just the hammer to send a message. That would be a shame.In truth, new superintendent Millie Hamner is pressing much of the Spampinato-led agenda for school improvement. If nothing else, her educators believe in her. She needs a chance to succeed, and that won’t happen if the mill levy is yanked.Wednesday, we will address the bond issue.
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