Here is a column that I submitted to the Brighton Standard Blade that was published this week. Please share it with your network!
Overcrowding in our schools is not a school district problem; it is a problem of our community. It is a problem that affects our property values and the economics of the entire community.
Why would a business chose to come into our town if our schools are on split schedule or an alternative year round track?
The number of students in School District 27J has nearly doubled in the last ten years. The overcrowding problem facing our schools will only get worse as more families move to the district, and younger kids move into middle and high schools that are even less equipped to handle the influx of students. The classrooms simply cannot
accommodate the overwhelming number of new students, and overcrowding is affecting teachers’ ability to provide individual attention and quality education each child deserves.
In spite of this, District 27J has achieved the highest graduation rate in 7 years, surpassing the state average. Test scores have improved steadily since 2008—surpassing the state average in several subjects and grades while statewide scores have been flat. District 27J is a statewide leader in teacher quality, as every teacher has been evaluated annually over the last three years. But this trend cannot continue if the classrooms are bursting at the seams.
Voting “Yes” on 3B would approve a $148 million bond to address the needs of our schools. The bond will cost property owners $3.45 per month for every $100,000 of home value and will allow the district to build several new schools in the district, expand others, and make necessary improvements and common sense safety upgrades across the district. Every single school in the district and every community in the district will see significant improvements from 3B. This investment will help stabilize and increase property values in the district. Our tax dollars will go directly to addressing overcrowding and class sizes, not administration.
The district has the least funding per student of any school district in the entire Metro area. They already do more with less, but with one of the fastest growing student populations in the state, we need to work together to ensure the quality of our local schools by maintaining the basics: a safe school with good teachers providing a well-rounded education to children.
It’s important to note too, that the state will not fund the capacity expansion and construction we need. In fact, state funding barely addresses the district’s operating needs. In addition, revenue from marijuana legalization is far below the mark, and there are no guarantees that any of that revenue will make it to 27J, let alone enough to fund our school construction needs. Amendment 68, also on the ballot this year, will similarly do little to help individual districts.
If the bond does not pass, the district will have to enact a contingency plan that will feature an extended school day with split schedules at the high school level and an alternative “track” type schedule for our elementary students. But even this will cost the district more money without solving the root of the problem.
Measure 3B is a well-tailored proposal, and every part of our district will see relief from it. The funding from this bond measure is critical to address a serious student growth problem that doesn’t go away if this measure is defeated and, in fact, gets much worse. This is our community, and only we have the power to alleviate the overcrowding of our schools and make our community stronger. I hope you’ll join me in voting “Yes on 3B” this November.