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Nov 7, 2013 9:37 AM by Maddie Garrett

What's Next for Schools After Failure of Amendment 66

Some parents, and many schools in our area, were banking on Amendment 66 to bring in new money for education. But the voters have spoken, with a resounding "no" to the proposed tax hike.

Amendment 66 was defeated by a 2 to 1 margin: 65% against the measure, 35% for it.

It was a tough sell to voters, raising income taxes to raise one billion dollars for schools and education. Many people were skeptical the money would actually go to help students. Even parents said "no" to Amendment 66.

"I was against it as well knowing that it's going to raise our taxes," said Monica Martinez, who has a child at Stratton Meadows Elementary School.

But a day after the defeat, many mom's and dad's are disappointed that their kids' schools are going to miss out on millions of dollars.

"I'm a little disappointed because I thought maybe, we need more teachers in our school system," said mom Shannon Gonzales.

Parent Joshua Padilla says he thought the tax hike would have been worth it for Amendment 66 if it benefited his children, "It'd be worth it to me to have more taxes."

Other parents express sadness at the loss.

"I think it's sad it could have helped the kids out a lot," said another mother, Tamika Randoll.

Some school districts were banking on Amendment 66. Harrison School District 2 said they had specific plans for the money, like expanding programs for students from low income families and bringing back some of the programs recently cut because of budget shortfalls.

"I think they need more money for things," said Gonzales.

Randoll agreed, saying, "I think there needs to be a whole lot more funding for school."

Colorado Springs District 11 said they would have put the money toward capital improvements and smaller class sizes. Spokesperson Devra Ashby said the district wasn't counting too heavily on potential dollars from Amendment 66, but explained it would have helped out since they've cut about $30 million from their budget over the last decade.

"We're about 80 million dollars in back log on capital improvement projects, so there's definitely a need within the school district. It would have been nice to have," she said.

Even though Amendment 66 failed, Ashby said many school districts can use this as a learning tool for the future, by paying attention to how voters feel about school funding.

"You always have to do your best to educate the voters on where the money is going to go, how it's going to be allocated," said Ashby.

As for what's next, school districts will have to find other ways to pay for education and improvements.

"We'll keep using the resources and the money that we do have and being wise stewards of that. But we always have an eye on possibly going out for a bond or a mil in the future," answered Ashby.

Even though Amendment 66 failed, our schools didn't come away completely empty handed from the recent election.

Voters gave strong support to the 15% excise tax on recreational marijuana. Some of the revenue from that tax will go to help schools. In fact, the first $40 million is earmarked for school construction projects in our state.



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