Jane Colby: Vote ‘yes’ on Soroco 5A, Amendment 73
As a school board member for Soroco School District, I witness firsthand the agonizing decisions in balancing the budget each year. Soroco continues to offer full-day kindergarten, excellent music, art and PE programs, successful athletic teams, an award-winning preschool and high academic performance (recently accredited with distinction).
The district maintains a bus fleet with the average vehicle having over 300,000 miles of use and provides transportation across wide geographic boundaries — Bond to Stagecoach and more. Soroco also maintains three different school buildings in two different towns, with expenses reflecting our environment —significant snow removal and heating costs.
Still, the overwhelming majority of the annual budget is for teacher salary and benefits. When the state cuts its education budget, as it has since continually since 1982, teaching positions and teacher salaries are often on the cutting block.
As a result, Soroco teacher salaries are lowest in the Northwest Colorado region, lower by an average of $7,000 per year and lower than the state average by $12,000 per year. Ballot issue 5A will help this situation, to bring Soroco teacher salaries closer to others in Northwest Colorado – all monies raised will go to teacher salaries.
Ballot Issue 5A is not enough, however – as Northwest Colorado lags the state and Colorado lags the nation in teacher salaries. Colorado’s funding is over $2,000 less per student than the national average.
Colorado Amendment 73 will help to address this situation. Not only does it provide additional needed funding to increase teacher salaries and address teacher shortages, it also relieves tax inequities by reducing business property taxes, provides allocation of monies fairly across school districts and raises its funds through a graduated tax on taxable income above $150,00 per year.
Soroco taxpayers will benefit far more than we pay through this amendment. Small businesses may even see a tax reduction. For Soroco, we plan to also use Amendment 73 funding for teachers – the most important factor affecting the education of our children. After all, our kids are our future.
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