Our view: Vote ‘yes’ on 2B | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Vote ‘yes’ on 2B

At issue: The half-cent sales tax for education is up for renewal in November for the fourth time since its inception in 1993. Our view: The education fund tax has invested over $61 million in our local schools over the past 25 years, and it deserves to be renewed. Editorial Board • Logan Molen, publisher • Lisa Schlichtman, editor • Mike Burns, community representative • Melissa Hampton, community representative Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or lschlichtman@SteamboatToday.com.

Since voters first approved the half-cent sales tax for public education in 1993, more than $61 million has gone to support public schools in Steamboat Springs and Routt County. That funding has helped elevate the Steamboat school system into one of Colorado’s best.

In 2009, the last time the tax was renewed, voters supported sharing the tax money with other Routt County public schools. For the 2018-19 grant cycle, 79 percent of the more than $4.1 million in funding was allocated to the Steamboat Springs School District while the Hayden and South Routt school districts received 5 percent and 4 percent of the funding respectively and 3 percent was allocated to the Mountain Village Montessori School.

The tax is up for renewal again in November, and we are urging voters to say “yes” on the ballot measure — 2B. The tax amounts to 5 cents on every $10 purchase and seems like a small price to pay to support local students.

This is not a new tax and represents the fourth time voters will have the chance to renew the tax. It’s a city tax and only Steamboat Springs residents will have the opportunity to vote on the ballot measure.

Each time the tax has come up for renewal, voters have overwhelming approved it. The tax money has helped Steamboat Springs School District offset state funding losses due to the negative factor, which went into effect in 2011, and according to the Steamboat Springs Education Fund board, one in every 10 teachers in the Steamboat district is paid for with the tax.

In addition, the fund supports cutting-edge instruction through innovation grants that are awarded to individuals, teachers or groups. A small amount of funding is also awarded in the form of community grants that support school-based programs like the Yampa Valley Science School, Partners in Routt County mentoring programs, the Yampa Valley Autism Program and Integrated Community.

The mission of the Steamboat Springs Education Fund is clear: “to enhance academic accomplishment in Routt County through student-facing investments in staff, facilities, infrastructure, technology and curriculum, made available through our public schools.”

We believe the fund has lived up to its mission, and because of that, the half-cent sales tax has earned its renewal.

The 22-member volunteer board that administers the fund and awards the grants works hard to ensure the money is spent appropriately. In recent years, stricter accountability protocol has been implemented, and taxpayers can be assured district and grant recipients are using the money as intended.

With a 25-year record of success, the education fund tax is a revenue source our local schools have come to depend upon, and we firmly believe that education in Routt County would be negatively impacted if voters chose not to renew it. We also know that strong schools are directly linked to a robust economy, and in the case of the education tax, the funds are literally being used to provide teaching jobs in our communities.

We wholeheartedly endorse 2B and urge city residents to vote “yes” this fall.

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