2013 Election results--Education finance reform amendment fails

November 6, 2013
2013 Election results--Education finance reform amendment fails In this year's election, Carbondale's marijuana taxes passed by a margin of more than 2 to 1. A property tax increase proposed by the Carbondale and Rural Fire protection district failed by a narrow margin of about 400 votes.

In Basalt, a bond issue raising money for the redevelopment of the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park passed by a margin of around 2 to 1.

Ballot questions proposing two property tax increases to fund the controversial Crown Mountain indoor recreation center failed by a wide margin of more than 4 to 1.

Elsewhere in Colorado, ballot measures banning or severely restricting fracking passed in Fort Collins, Boulder, Broomfield and Lafayette.

And on the state level, voters overwhelmingly approved taxes for recreational marijuana, setting the rates at 15 percent for excise taxes and an initial 10 percent for sales taxes on the drug.

Voters also rejected Amendment 66, a tax hike that would have injected nearly a billion dollars into Colorado schools. KDNK's Ed Williams has more on how the amendment's failure will affect schools in the Roaring Fork Valley.
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Colorado voters on Tuesday handily rejected Amendment 66, a tax hike that would have raised an additional billion dollars to fund public schools statewide. The measure, which failed by a 2-1 margin, was a wish-list for educators that included provisions to make full-day kindergarten standard across the state, give more money to schools in low-income areas and increase funding for English Language Learner programs.

The campaign in support Amendment 66 raised over $10 million ahead of Tuesday's election, drawing millions in donations from the likes of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Opponents of the measure had raised a mere $40,000 ahead of the vote according to Kelly Maher, executive director of the opposition group Compass Colorado.

Supporters of Amendment 66 had hoped the tax increase would have scrapped the state's current tuition-based system of early education in public schools, which educators say creates an achievement gap between those students who can afford full-day kindergarten and those who cannot.

In the RE-1 school district, the measure would have paid for full-day kindergarten for 200 students of low-income families, and given a funding increase of up to $400 per student to pay for individualized instruction for both struggling and gifted and talented students.

Shannon Pelland, who oversees the budget for the RE-1district, said money from Amendment 66 would also have offset the almost $90,000 in federal budget cuts district is facing from sequestration.

Pelland said paying for full-day classes for all the district's preschool students—public preschool programs here carry a price tag of around $2 million a year—will likely require another tax increase in the future, if voters will approve one next time around.

"We're just talking about too big a nut to crack through grant opportunities," she said.

At Crystal River Elementary in Carbondale, the school that would have seen the largest proportion of preschool funding in the RE-1 district under Amendment 66, parents pay $343 each month per student in full-day kindergarten, though many of those parents have gotten help from grant money won by teachers at the school. Jamie Friday, who has worked to get grant funding for early education at Crystal River Elementary, estimates between 20-30 percent of the students there cannot pay the tuition for full-day kindergarten.

Still, Crystal River Elementary Principal Heather Cremeans said she's confident the defeat of Amendment 66 won't hurt the school's ability to meet students' needs.

"We have worked in underfunded schools in this state for years. We know how to stretch our resources," Cremeans said. "We're going to continue educating kids just as effectively as we have done in the past. We just could have done it better."