For fifth-grade teacher Hannah Bruner, the apparent passage of a tax measure that would raise teacher salaries in Jeffco Public Schools brought a sense of relief.
"Since I entered the profession I have had to work multiple jobs in order to pay my bills,” Bruner said. “The passage of the mill means that for the first time in my career, I might be able to focus solely on my students.”
Bruner was referring to the 54.65 percent approval from voters for 5A, a $33 million mill levy override.
Those counting on 5B, the $567 million bond that would primarily repair and renovate aging schools, are still hopeful: As of 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, the vote was 50.02 percent opposed to the measure.
About half of the mill levy override would provide money to give teachers raises. The rest would go toward student safety improvements, programming in career and technical resources and STEM options, and to expand full-day early childhood education. A similar ask was rejected in 2016.
"I’m gratified about 5A, we really value our educators that we have the Jeffco and I think 5A will help us stop hemorrhaging those educators to other districts," said Jeffco Schools boardmemebr Brad Ruppert.
The bond would bring outdated district buildings up to structural and educational standards, to address continuing population growth and improve school security measures.The bond — a financial mechanism to pay for building construction, renovations and capital improvements — was the fifth proposed for Jeffco schools since 2004, when the last major bond for facility improvements ($323.8 million) was passed. Voters approved a $99 million bond for repairs related to keeping schools warm, safe and dry in 2012. But they rejected a $535 million bond in 2016 and a similar request in 2008.
As of 5 p.m. Nov. 8, there were still an estimated 10,000 ballots left to be counted.
"We have seen over the course of the evening the gap on 5B close as more votes were counted," Superintendent Dr. Jason Glass said at the Nov. 7 study session. "So I think it's still in the cards that 5B will cross the finish line. It’s a hail Mary, but it’s possible."
At the board study session the morning of Nov. 7, other board members also said they aren't giving up yet.
"From my point of view I think the voters on facilities confused me a bit,' said board president Ron Mitchell. "For the 3 years I’ve been on the board we’ve heard that people love the neighborhood schools and want to keep them open, yet at the same time I’m surprised that maybe they don’t understand that there is a cost in doing that."
As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7 the gap between those wanting and not wanting to fund the bond continued to close with a difference of just over 3,000 votes. By 5 p.m. the next day, that gap was closed to 132 votes.
StatewideThe statewide Amendment 73, which would generate new revenue for public education, also appeared to be failing 44.79 percent to 55.21 percent.If passed, it would have instituted a complex graduated income tax increase on individuals earning more than $150,000 a year, and increase the corporate income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 6 percent. The measure would also fix residential property tax rates at 7 percent, preventing them from falling further due to the Gallagher Amendment.
"The loss of Amendment 73 is heartbreaking,” said Angela Anderson, a social studies teacher at Bear Creek High School. “I feel like the voters in Colorado support our schools and education, but we can’t fund our schools on gratitude. My students are worth the investment and I am determined to keep going in order for them to have a fully funded public education.”
However, Jesse Mallory, the state director of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative funding organization, had a different outlook on the amendment results.
"Coloradans were rightly leery of an $1.6 billion tax increase without guaranteed results," he said in a news release. "The legislature should instead look at ways to increase funding by cutting wasteful spending, ending fraud and abuse, and eliminating handouts and tax loopholes for powerful and well-connected special interests."
More: Early returns show voters against state ballot issues
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