Bergmann: No on ‘terrible three’

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To the editor:

As a recently retired educator and school superintendent, I follow school news and business closely.

It has been nice being on the sidelines instead of in the stressful “game” of public education, but I feel compelled to share what I believe will be the real effects of Amendment 60 and 61, and Proposition 101 on public education.

To put it simply, the huge challenges faced by public education continue to grow as our resources to help students prepare for a future of their choice continue to shrink.

A yes vote on these amendments would be devastating to our school systems.

To quote former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens in the Sept. 26 Denver Post: “On the surface, some of the claims by proponents of Amendments 60 and 61, and Proposition 101 might sound appealing. But, there’s an old saying: ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’ Nothing describes these three measures better.”

You may have heard that the state is obligated to pay for the constitutional and statutory requirements of public education, therefore our schools will not be severely impacted.

Not true.

Yes, Amendment 23 and the 1994 School Finance Law do stipulate some guarantees for K-12 funding, but the state has wiggle room within the constitution and statute to decrease school funding, which they have taken advantage of recently, and I believe they will continue to do if these measures pass.

A yes vote on Amendment 60 would lower your property tax and put the burden on the state to backfill lost revenue to schools, but if the state legislature continues to take a “shared sacrifice” philosophy when it comes to budget cuts, they will reduce funding to our schools as they have the last two years.

Other state services will also take a significant hit, but so will the schools.

Over the last two years, the Moffat County School District received $600 less per pupil from the state than the constitution and statute specify, which amounted to a loss of $1.35 million of annual revenue.

If these measures pass, the loss of state funding to schools will continue. I believe it’s likely state revenue to Moffat County will be reduced an additional $1 million to $2 million in years to come. This loss would have a severe impact on the quality of education for our students.

Our Moffat County School Board recognized the range of negative impacts of these ballot initiatives, as they voted unanimously to oppose these amendments and proposition at the August meeting.

If you would like specific details on how these measures would affect the school district, contact district finance director Mark Rydberg at 826-6265.

Don’t be misled by the appeal of more money in your pockets at the expense of our kids and devastated state services.

Every day I hear, “Our national debt is out of control. What kind of future will we be leaving to our kids?”

Education is the key to our children’s future. Vote no on Amendment 60 and 61, and Proposition 101.

Pete Bergmann

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