Editorial: Greeley-Evans voters should support mill-levy override for schools

Voters in Greeley-Evans School District 6 will have another chance in November to approve a mill-levy override, even as they narrowly rejected a similar measure a year ago.

School district officials approved final ballot language in late August seeking to raise an estimated $14 million per year for seven years. Passage would end the district’s status as the largest in the state without a mill-levy override.

The override would cost the owner of a $200,000 home an additional $144 per year in property taxes. A commercial property valued at $1 million would see an additional $2,900 in property taxes per year.

In November 2016, voters turned down a similar request, 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent. But that vote was far closer than in 2009, when voters turned down a mill-levy override by 66 percent to 34 percent.

The tide appears to be shifting, both in voter sentiment and in performance of schools in the district. As the Greeley Tribune noted recently, the district for the first time has no schools labeled “turnaround,” the lowest designation possible from the state. Instead, the district now has 15 schools labeled “performance,” the highest designation.

And new Superintendent Dierdre Pilch has won widespread acclaim for making solid gains in the district with limited resources. Those efforts included elimination of numerous administrator positions to support pay raises for teachers. She’s also bolstered cooperation with charter schools and worked to reform collective bargaining with teachers.

Improvements are being made, bit by bit. But the district can do only so much without additional funding. The proposed mill-levy override would be used to:

• Improve safety, security and transportation.

• Support academic and vocational programs to graduate career-ready students.

• Provide up-to-date instructional materials and technology.

• Attract and maintain a competitive workforce.

• Allocate mill-levy-override revenues based on student count to charter schools.

Voters in Greeley and Weld County traditionally have prided themselves on low taxation and frugal government spending. But any objective observer should see the need at District 6 for additional money to maintain and increase momentum on standardized test scores, graduation rates, etc.

And they should see that the 2017 proposed mill-levy override would constitute a worthy taxation and would provide crucial support to the district and its students.

It’s time for voters in Greeley-Evans School District 6 to show their support for the progress that’s been made, and the progress yet to come.


 

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