Jeffco tax increase to boost teacher salaries passes; school construction bond fails

 

Jefferson County voters passed one tax increase to benefit schools Tuesday but turned down another.

Voters were considering two measures: a $567 million bond for school construction and a $33 million “mill levy override,” half of which would be used to increase teacher salaries. The mill levy override, known as 5A, passed with 52.5 percent of the vote.

But the bond measure, known as 5B, failed with just 48 percent of the vote.

The Jefferson County Education Association, which represents teachers in the district, released a statement late Tuesday night thanking voters for their support of the mill levy override.

“Since I entered the profession, I have had to work multiple jobs in order to pay my bills,” fifth-grade teacher Hannah Bruner said in the statement. “The passage of the mill means that for the first time in my career, I might be able to focus solely on my students.”

But the union said teachers were disappointed at the rejection of the bond measure, noting that Jeffco schools built prior to 1980 “are in need significant improvement due to continual cuts in funding.”

This was the second time in two years that the 86,000-student district asked voters for more money. In 2016, voters soundly rejected the district’s request for a $33 million mill levy override, which was the same amount as this year’s request, and a $535 million bond measure.

District officials said they plan to use the proceeds of this year’s tax measures to raise teacher pay, increase mental health support for students, beef up school security, expand career and technical education, add more full-day preschool, and buy classroom materials and technology.

The district will pass on a proportional share of tax funds to its 19 charter schools, which are publicly funded but independently run. Such revenue sharing is required by state law.

The district estimates that the two ballot measures combined will cost Jefferson County homeowners $46.92 per $100,000 of assessed home value per year.

 

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.

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