Voters will decide whether the increase in salaries for teachers and employees in the Roaring Fork School District warrants an increase in property taxes in Tuesday’s election.
Ballot question 5B asks whether property taxes should be increased to generate up to $ 7.7 million in offset funds for the next year and each year thereafter – adjusted for inflation – for help cope with the Roaring Fork School District staff crisis. The district started the school year with more than 60 vacancies in support staff, operations and even in the classroom. District officials say wages disproportionately low compared to the cost of living in the Roaring Fork Valley are the main culprit.
“We’ve really cut our budget to the bone, and we still have teachers leaving because they can’t afford to live here,” said Autumn Rivera, teacher at Glenwood Middle School and co-chair of the Yes on 5B campaign, in a forum on voting issues. October 11.
Rivera said 75% of teachers in the district were working second jobs – including herself – to afford to stay here. At the same rate, new teacher candidates are turning down job offers when looking for housing options.
Colorado Department of Education data shows the Roaring Fork School District has the third highest cost of living in the state, but educator salaries are 23rd the average teacher salary according to 2020 data. Although the $ 56,424 is in the top quarter of the state, it is still below the state average of $ 58,219.
The state is requiring 13% of factory fee waiver funds to go to charter schools in a district, of which Roaring Fork has one – the Carbondale Community School. The remaining funds will be distributed 75% to staff and salary increases and 25% to recruitment and retention efforts.
The Yes on 5B campaign estimates that it will result in increases of 10-12% for district staff. The increases from the district administration are not included in the factories’ drawdown plans.
Homeowners would pay $ 3.62 per $ 100,000 of assessed value per month, and owners of commercial buildings would pay $ 14.67 per $ 100,000 of assessed value per month, according to the campaign.
The campaign was endorsed by the Roaring Fork School District School Board, Glenwood Springs City Council and the Post Independent Editorial Board.
District A school board candidate Kenny Teitler and District E candidate Kathryn Kuhlenberg have been adamantly supporting the factory tax exemption in their campaigns. District A candidate Chase McWhorter and District E candidate Steven Fotion have expressed reservations, particularly about monitoring how funds are spent.
“What would be my biggest concern is to make sure the funds are supposed to go, they go,” McWhorter said in the same forum on Oct. 11.
The wording of the ballot indicates that the funds will be placed in the general district fund and would be subject to review by an independent auditor each year.
The Roaring Fork School District is already raising about $ 9 million in compensation funds through previous voting measures, the most recent of which was passed in 2011. Colorado state law allows school districts to get 25% additional of the amount of their public funding through the levy of factories. overruns. Passing 5B would bring the Roaring Fork School District to its factory fee waiver cap.