Eagle County school district will ask voters how to spend money generated by Amendment 73, if it passes | VailDaily.com

Eagle County school district will ask voters how to spend money generated by Amendment 73, if it passes

The Eagle County school district will ask voters how they would want Amendment 73 money spent, if it passes next month. Eagle County schools would get $11.6 million annually, of the $1.6 billion the tax increases would generate.
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EAGLE — If Colorado voters approve increasing statewide education taxes, local schools will ask local voters how they want that additional money spent.

Amendment 73 would increase corporate and personal income taxes on the state’s highest earners and raise $1.6 billion in education funding. Of that, $11.6 million would find its way to Eagle County Schools.

Some Eagle County education advocates announced possible plans for the money.

The school board stepped on the brakes, saying the school district would ask local voters for some direction.

“We’ve decided to … seek community input following the election if the amendment passes to determine how to allocate those resources,” the school district said.

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Generally, if Amendment 73 passes, the school district would spend $11.6 million on:

• Attracting and retaining high-quality educators and staff.

• Reducing class sizes by hiring more educators.

• Funding full-day kindergarten for the community.

• Funding strategic support positions such as social and emotional specialists, reading and math specialists and custodians.

“As stewards of the public dollars, I can assure you that we’ll be transparent with how that money is allocated, and of course, we’ll have input from all the stakeholders,” Superintendent Dr. Carlos Ramirez said when the amendment made the ballot.

In their first pass, school district officials put spending percentages on those goals. Those percentages kicked up some discord.

“Such debate is not unusual. Small changes in rates can result in the movement of significant funds,” said Dan Dougherty, the school district’s chief communications officer.

If Amendment 73 passes, the school district would not see any new money until the first half of 2020, Dougherty said.

“Our needs today are likely to be different than our needs then,” Dougherty said.

Not a local request

Amendment 73 is not another local request, Dougherty said, but a statewide initiative.

“We recognize, with sincere gratitude, that our community recently passed local measures to fund both educational facilities (bonds) and offset state-level cuts in operational funds (mill levy),” Dougherty said.

The local tax increase is scheduled to sunset in the 2021-22 school year. That sunset was put in place in case a statewide education funding increase was created, such as Amendment 73.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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