Voters approved Referendum 3A, which asked permission for the Dolores School District to continue a mill levy passed in 2008 for another eight years.
According to the Montezuma County election office, 823 voted for the measure and 437 voted against it, or 65.3 percent to 34.7 percent.
“These much needed funds will support teacher salaries, classroom supplies, and education technology,” said Dolores Schools Superintendent Scott Cooper. “We are very thankful for voter recognition that this funding is desperately needed.”
The mill levy generates $390,000 per year. Voters agreed to continue the tax at the current level until the mill sunsets in 2024.
School officials said the money from the mill has been earmarked for building maintenance and safety upgrades ($90,000), library upgrades ($21,000) instructional materials and supplies ($89,000), technology ($40,000), and staff recruitment and retention ($150,000).
The mill comes from property taxes. A $100,000 home pays $4.68 a month, and a $100,000 commercial property pays $17.07.
Rural school districts face a budget crisis because the state pulls money from Amendment 23 education funds to balance the state budget. After schools sued, the Colorado Supreme Court recently ruled the state legislature is authorized to continuing tapping into the funds for other uses.
The result – the “negative factor” – has cut school budgets every year since 2009. Dolores’ budget cut has been by $4.7 million in the past seven years. For fiscal year 2015-2016, the school saw its budget cut by $764,467.
“Approving this mill helps to offset the negative factor,” Cooper said. “We will continue working with the state to improve education funding.”
Colorado is ranked 47th in the U.S. for funding.