The Ballot Proposal
We know: school funding can be a lot to figure out.
To help you better understand 27J’s mill levy override proposal, we’re answering your questions. On this page, you’ll find the answers you need explained in a way that actually makes sense.
What's in the mill levy override ballot request for 2022?
The proposal slated for the 2022 ballot in 27J Schools includes:
- Increased funding to create a student safety program including hiring professionally trained armed safety officers at each school, provide three safety specialists to work with our municipalities to train staff to increase student safety; and to engage our community, upgrade our school security systems and conduct routine safety audits.
- Improved teacher and staff pay to attract and keep effective staff to serve and support students. This funding would bring teacher/staff pay closer to the market average so we can compete for and keep the best employees.
- More teachers and student support staff to expand opportunities in the STEM/CTE centers being built now. It would also provide the necessary materials and resources unique to hands-on, industry-specific career educational programs.
If the community approves the request NONE of the money would be used for administration salary increases or building improvements.
How much will the ballot proposal cost a homeowner?
The total proposal is for 8 mills. This would cost $55.60 per $100,000 of home value and would equal $278 per year for a $500,000 home—less than $1/day.
Why does 27J need additional funding?
27J Schools operates on a total budget that is 20% less than all other metro-area districts.
That means we are able to pay teachers and considerably less than our competitors and therefore, 27J has a very difficult time hiring and keeping good teachers.
Students are missing out on great instruction.
Growth in student enrollment has outstripped the district’s ability to keep pace with change. Curriculum, materials, supports and programs all change over time and it takes funding to adapt materials and incorporate the latest technology and researching into the curriculum.
Professional teachers’ pay also increases and 27J can’t keep up with the pay increases our neighbors have given teachers. Now, as a result, its very difficult to attract and keep good teachers to serve our students who deserve the best.
Finally, our community approved a bond program last year and part of that program includes building new STEM/CTE centers at every high school. We have the funds now to build the new school programs, but we didn’t pass the mill levy override request which would have paid for the additional staff needed to teach the growing numbers of students needing to take additional classes and earn college credit while in high school. The new facilities will have some of the latest technology and resources, but it won’t have the additional teachers each of those programs require so no additional students will be able to enroll in the current number of classes offered.
How would this proposal improve education for our students?
This proposal would increase pay for teachers and education support staff who are essential to providing outstanding services for kids. Without the funding, 27J can’t attract or even keep the teachers needed to teach our young people.
Today, students need increased career skills and hands-on training demanded by so many industries. The mill would expand the STEM and CTE classes that provide those experiences for students. These courses give students career-ready skills so they can get a good paying job right out of high school.
How would this proposal make our community better?
High-quality, local education benefits your community whether you have children/grandchildren in school or not.
First, having a well-educated community means crime levels decrease. It’s a fact, too, that the cost to educate one child for one year is far less than the cost to incarcerate one person for a year.
Secondly, quality schools keeps neighborhoods robust and thriving. People support the communities that have great schools. In turn, people invest in communities that support their schools. Studies also continue to show that property values stay healthy and remain an excellent investment for all homeowners.
Finally, communities that have great, community-supported schools have a higher quality of life for people of all ages. Studies show that there are more investments in neighborhood amenities, features and unique services that keep people happy living in that area. Well-resourced schools create a great return on investment for neighbors and residents.
What do students miss out on if our schools don't have this funding?
Our students have fewer educational options when it comes to courses and programs compared to students in other districts.
Our students must use textbooks and curricular materials that are much older than those used by neighboring districts because 27J can’t afford to keep current on it’s replacement cycle—that means students using outdated materials and falling behind their peers in other districts.
Our students don’t have the extracurricular activities all our metro-area neighbors have because funding can’t stretch enough to cover additional programs. That means the high demand for more programs students need goes unmet. Our student athletics programs must reuse their team uniforms for many more years as compared to our peer districts simply because the costs for new uniforms isn’t within our budget means.
These are just a few examples of what students miss out on. We encourage our community members to visit with students in their neighborhood schools to find out what they think.
Risks of Failure
What happens if the mill levy doesn’t pass?
Simply put, 27J School would be forced to cut its budget and that will impact students and families:
- There will be budget cuts in student programs, district services and school services
- Student safety won’t be improved because there’s no funding for adequate safety functions. Elementary schools will not have any dedicated safety personnel. Middle schools will only have safety personnel available on a rotating basis.
- Students will have less access to job-ready skills because due to the lack of STEM/Career and Technical Education teachers and programming. This will limit the career skills and certifications students are able to earn in high school.
- 27J will continue to struggle to hire and keep teachers, because neighboring districts will poach them with more competitive pay. 27J students will miss out on the benefits of having high-quality teachers and support staff in their schools. This will lead to worse educational outcomes for students.
Which programs/services are at risk if the mill fails?
Through decades of underfunding, 27J has kept cuts away from the classroom as much as possible.
If the mill levy does not pass, 27J will be forced to make cuts that will have a greater impact on students and parents, in order to continue funding its core mission.
- School bus routes will be cut.
- No improved safety for students including at elementary schools, which have no safety officers.
- Class sizes will go up.
- Middle school and high school sports will be cut.
- Extra-curricular activities which have a paid sponsor will be cut.
- No additional teachers hired for STEM/Career and Technical Education classes, and no additional programs at the new STEM/CTE centers to meet increased student needs.
How will I know if 27J uses mill money exactly as the community approves?
There will be a community oversight committee that will regularly meet and review the programs, finances and deadlines. The committee will make regular reports to the Board of Education to ensure transparency and accountability.
The oversight committee created for the mill levy override will perform similar functions to our existing Bond Oversight Committee, whose work you can see here.
How has 27J kept its spending under control?
27J Schools has continued to prioritize its spending in the classroom, so that students feel less of the impact of the district’s low funding.
Evidence of this is seen in the student-to-teacher ratio data (which is comparable to our neighbors) as compared to the administrator-per-student raio data and the instructional staff-per-student ratio data (where 27J has far, far less support).
Department and school budgets are extremely lean and there’s simply no wiggle room to negotiate or compromise. Schools and departments know they have less money to fund programs as compared to neighboring districts. They do the best they can to fund the limited options they have.
What have been 27J's funding priorities?
27J Schools has prioritized school funding over any other areas of funding. Evidence of this is seen in the student-per-teacher raio data. This is an area where we are close to matching what some of our neighboring districts.
Over the years, we’ve reduced class sizes, increased the number of counselors and mental health support staff at each school. We’ve increased the number of sporting activities available to students at high school and we’ve been able to purchase some new curricular materials for some targeted courses.
How does 27J stack up on per-student funding?
27J Schools is the third lowest funded school district in the state. Other school districts on average have $2,000 more per student than 27J. That means 27J Schools receives $40 million less than other districts every year.
The bottom line: 27J has to operate on a budget that has 20% less money than those districts around us.
How did 27J get so far behind other districts?
The 27J community passed its last mill levy override in 2000. Since that time, all of our neighboring districts have pass multiple MLOs.
When the community doesn’t approve an MLO recommendation, its schools can’t meet the additional needs listed in the ballot language. For the past 22 years and counting, 27J Schools has kept the same amount of mill levy funding but been forced to spread it across many times more students.
27J simply can’t compete or provide students the best education without changes in the funding we use to serve more children.
What are the consequences of being one of the lowest-funded districts in Colorado?
27J students must settle for less than their peers around the state.
- 27J students can’t get into the STEM/career and technical courses they need because there aren’t enough teachers, materials and resources to meet the increased student demand.
- 27J struggles to hire and keep high quality teachers.
- 27J often loses its more experienced teachers who can earn more by shifting to a district just 20 minutes away.
- 27J teachers make, on average, $10,000 less per year than other metro area teachers.
- 27J is considering cutting transportation services meaning many students will not get this optional service that is currently available from 27J Schools.
- Class sizes will increase because 27J can’t find teachers to fill all open positions and there are no funds to expand programs based on increased student needs.
Does 27J have more administrators than similar districts?
27J Schools operates with a fraction of the administrators of similar, neighboring districts, because our district is third from last in Colorado in funding per student.
27J prioritizes spending in the classroom, which means we have to operate with an administrators-to-students ratio 50-70% less than our neighboring districts, proportionally.
The consequence: less support for schools in improving instruction, less use of data to better teach more students, and worse coordination of programs to maximize limited time and resources.
How Schools are Funded
How is 27J's funding so low when there are thousands of new homes being built?
The state funds its school districts based on what lawmakers decide each year. The funding amounts have nothing to do with community growth or new homes being built.
All school districts are funded at the same basic level by the state.
How much mill levy override money does 27J receive right now?
27J Schools receives $41 per student in mill levy override funds, based on its current mill levy override which has not increased since 2000.
That puts 27J far behind the other Adams County metro school districts, which receive 20 to 80 times more in MLO funding per student.
Why does the amount of MLO funds per 27J student go down every year?
Every year, student enrollment numbers increase in 27J schools. Unlike other districts, 27J’s mill levy override was passed for a fixed amount—$750,000 annually. That number does not change, even as the community’s value grows.
So, each year, that same $750,000 has to be shared between more and more students and each student receives less in local, mill funds.
When 27J’s last mill was passed over twenty years ago, 27J only had 5,308 students. Now the same $750,000 is being split between more than 20,000 students!