Dennis Brust: Vote ‘no’ on 3C

It’s for the kids. If only that were true.

The Steamboat Springs School District is charging $600 for full day kindergarten. With approximately 166 kindergarten students, SSSD is asking the parents of kindergarten students to absorb approximately $99,600 over and above what SSSD has been able to fund out of normal operations.

Remember, Steamboat Today reported June 24 that the school board voted 3-2 to move forward with a deficit spending budget.

According to an Oct. 12 commentary in Steamboat Today, Ballot initiative 3C will generate about $530,000. That amount will eventually grow to about $950,000 to cover the $99,600 currently paid by parents.

The rub is that there is no obligation to spend this money on kindergarten, only to provide kindergarten services

No doubt, the majority of people believe the merits of full-day kindergarten are worth pursuing, and for $99,600 it in fact would be for the kids.

According to the Steamboat Today article, the amount charged next year would be $530,000. That leaves nearly $440,000 over what it cost the community this year for the same services. There should be little doubt why Referendum 3C asks for substantially more than the amount needed. It is not for the kids.

One needs to look no further than the school board chairman’s unwillingness to balance the budget to understand why they want an extra tax.

All criticism should come with an alternative solution, so we should all ask: If we have a half-cent sales tax that covers extras for our schools is that not the first place to look for funding? The Education Fund Board has generously participated in offsetting the cost of full-day kindergarten in the past and has always been responsive to community needs. In recent years our district has received between $2.1 and $2.8 million from the EFB for extras. Before going to the taxpayers for a new tax, the SSSD would be wise to use the current tax that provides well over $2 million to continue to participate in funding full-day kindergarten.

In addition, the advantage of using the EFB is that they would not fund a $99,600 shortfall with more than $99,600.

The three Steamboat Springs school board members must be held accountable for asking the voters to approve a tax initiative for $950,000 after they found a way to force a vote to deficit spend for a new, higher teacher contract. With a $99,600 need and a minimum of nearly half a million dollars in new taxes, where is the transparency and accountability on how this money is to be spent.

Yes, full day kindergarten is easily worth $99,600, but providing our school board with up to nearly $850,000 in unregulated spending is not the way.

Vote “no” on 3C

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