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Voices: Top 10 reasons to vote for Jeffco's 3A/3B

Jeffco dad Byron Gale gives us his top 10 reasons for supporting Jeffco schools at the polls this November.

Jefferson County voters face an important decision in this year’s election – ballot measures 3A and 3B. With state funding levels for education reduced in our stagnant economy, Jeffco voters must take care of our own, like past generations have done for current generations.

Right now, our schools need our support and our vote. Ballot questions 3A and 3B represent an opportunity to invest in our future, our kids and our community – there’s something in it for all of us whether we have school-age kids or not. I encourage all Jeffco voters to consider these important ballot measures, and I offer the following 10 reasons to vote ‘yes’ on 3A and 3B:

  1. Colorado ranks 49th out of 50 states in per pupil instruction spending based on average personal income – second to last in education funding.
  2. 3A and 3B will offset planned budget cuts of $45 million for the 2013-2014 academic year. These budget cuts would negatively impact many programs and cause the loss of 600 Jeffco jobs causing class size to increase dramatically.
  3. Jeffco teachers are in their third year of a 3 percent pay cut, yet their workloads, medical coverage costs and living costs continue to increase.
  4. There is a positive correlation between education funding, school quality and property values. Quality schools and school districts attract businesses and professionals, enhancing the reputation, demand and real estate values in those areas.
  5. 3A and 3B are right-sized to address just the critical needs of the district. Several larger bond packages and mill levy overrides have passed in comparable Front Range school districts in the past few years.
  6. 3A and 3B are affordable relative to what they will provide. Based on the average home value, the net cost to a Jefferson County homeowner is an incremental $3 per month, or a dime a day.
  7. Colorado has the 11th lowest state and local tax burden per capita income among the 50 states; and Jeffco and Colorado homeowners pay far less than the national average in real estate taxes as a percentage of home value. Colorado’s relatively lower tax rates make it easier to have the discussion on important measures like 3A and 3B.
  8. 3A and 3B will enable Jeffco Public Schools to maintain its tradition of academic excellence: a graduation rate second in the nation, outperforming the state-average TCAP results in all grade levels and content areas and several high schools recognized nationally by U.S. News & World Report.
  9. Jeffco Public Schools has demonstrated fiscal responsibility by strategically utilizing reserves and reducing expenditures by $78 million over four years while minimizing the impact on classrooms. Jeffco efficiently allocates 84 cents of each dollar spent toward classroom instruction.
  10. 3A and 3B will preserve classroom size, enable the retention and recruitment of highly qualified teachers, restore two days of school, maintain teacher librarians, music programs and instructional coaches and contribute to charter school funding, Outdoor Lab and technology. Not one penny of 3A money will go toward PERA, the Public Employee Retirement Association.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

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