Hayden School District mill levy up for renewal
October 18, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Hayden School District is seeking to renew an existing mill levy that generates $321,473 annually for local schools.
Approval of Referendum 4A would remove the sunset provision, currently scheduled for the 2019-20 budget year. The ballot initiative is not a new tax but a continuation of an existing levy.
"It's absolutely critical in face of state school funding," said Tammy Delaney, speaking as a community member, parent of two Hayden High School graduates and business owner and not as a member of the Hayden Board of Education.
If passed, Hayden residents will continue to pay $24.79 per month per $100,000 of assessed valuation and commercial entities will pay $90.31 per $100,000.
Like every other district in Colorado, Hayden school officials have been working with an "increasingly diminished budget" over most of the past decade, Delaney said. While the funding concerns have been looming, Delaney said the district is now in “crisis mode." The tax has helped to offset losses in state funding due to the negative factor, which went into effect in 2011.
Delaney said three to five positions would have to be cut without the funding. Cuts would also be made to academic programming.
Voters initially approved the measure in 2010 and again in 2014.
The funding is to be used specifically for "improving academic growth through efforts to maintain small class sizes, attracting and retaining highly qualified teachers and staff, and to provide adequate maintenance upgrades and renovations to facilities and equipment."
Another grave concern, Delaney said, is the approaching need for maintenance and repairs that will come with the new facility, scheduled for completion in time for the start of the 2020 school year.
Awarded the $38.8 million BEST grant in May, the $61 million project to turn the existing elementary school into a K-12 campus will make Hayden one of the nicest schools in the country, Delaney said, but it will require the district to protect the investment into the future.
“Yes on 4A” advocates point to the fact that successful schools increase property values and also note that the school district is one of the town’s large employers and schools serve as the community hub and economic contributor.
Delaney said she's grateful for the support of the community, and notes the "recommitment" of the mill levy has a minimal impact on taxpayers with no new increases.
"We've tightened our belt, as have most districts, but we cannot tighten any more," Delaney added.