Although Jefferson County is relatively wealthy, schools have disappointing academic statistics compared to national averages.
Ballot issues 3A and 3B were added to the ballot by the local school board and are part of a process to improve the schools in the county.
The city council has given its support to both bills, which put forth two financial tactics to improve the educational system for schools in and around Golden by increasing the budget of the school system.
Past trends in spending from 2012-2016 show an increase of 20.71%. In 2012, the schools spent $617 million and this year they spent $745 million. This averages to an annual increase in spending of around $25 million annually.
Ballot issue 3A will further increase the school district budget through a $33 million increase in taxes for Jefferson county.
Specifically, the money is going to efforts within the school system to increase counselors, security, and hands-on learning experiences in STEM, arts, music and vocational programs. The bill’s supporters point to comparative statistics that show that Jefferson County ranks 40th nationally in per pupil funding, falling behind New Mexico and Wyoming.
Those against the initiative are also frustrated with the results of county schools, but are unsure that increasing spending in this particular way will have a new benefit. The demographics suffering in the community are those who are on school lunch programs and fall below or near the poverty line. This bill does not entirely focus on this issue. Those against 3A are also frustrated that the past increases in spending have not resulted in a notable positive effect in testing statistics thus far.
Ballot issue 3B would also increases school spending, but unlike 3A, this ballot issue would use an approved bond of $535 million. The county would receive this money immediately and spend it on pressing issues such as some schools that are temporarily without water, as well as improving other facilities with state-of-the-art security.
Supporters of 3B also promise that the money will increase hands-on learning for students and help with growing attendance in elementary schools.
Those who oppose 3B are shocked by the net amount of approximately one billion dollars to be paid for the bond. Again, those against issue 3B are frustrated that the schools have not shown an increase in student performance even though spending has increased.
Both bills will also increase local government spending of the Jefferson County School, which focuses on improving facilities and opportunities for students.
This spending will come from an increase in taxes and bonds. Each voter will essentially see an increase of “$4.12 per month for every $100,000 in home value,” said city councilor Pamela Gould.
The decision to vote yes or no comes down to whether the voter believes that spending will increase the quality of the schools and if the voter is willing to spend more on the students.