You’d never know it from the laser-like focus on the presidential election in 2020, but there was far more on the ballot last year than Joe Biden and Donald Trump. For Denver-area residents, the future of its students’ education was front and center.
To their credit, metro residents stepped up to the plate, voting to increase funding for many school projects in the coming years.
“I’m just thrilled, and so incredibly grateful to the voters of Denver,” Denver Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova told 4CBS Denver. (Cordova has since resigned her post). “This is huge for us. I think it’s even more important at this specific moment in time, as we grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In Denver, a 1.55 mills property tax increase gives the school district $32 million more in revenue. The money “will pay for compensation increases, full-time nurses, and mental health support for students,” Cordova told 4CBS Denver. It will also be used to increase special education services.
Voters also passed a $795 million bond measure, which will fund construction projects at Montbello High School and pay for installation of air conditioning units in outdated school buildings. It will also help update of playgrounds, create new science labs and other school renovations and go toward buying land for new schools.
Voters in the Cherry Creek School District passed a property tax increase, which will help recoup a $60 million budget shortfall that resulted during the pandemic.
Universal free preschool was one of the biggest winners on the ballot, as Colorado residents voted to more than triple state taxes on cigarettes by 2027 (to $2.64 a pack) and impose new taxes and fees on smokeless tobacco and vaping products that will support the preschool program, beginning in 2023.
The preschool program could have a major impact on us all. Writes Chalkbeat: “Research shows children who attend high-quality educational programs are more likely to graduate from high school, have higher earning potential as adults, and are less likely to commit crimes or become teenage parents.”
“For every $1 invested in quality preschool, between $8 and $16 is avoided in societal cost and between $2 and $3 is returned in increased per capita earnings and jobs for state residents,” Bill Jaeger, vice president for early childhood and policy initiatives for the Colorado Children’s Campaign told Chalkbeat.
In all, area residents earned an A+ when it comes to supporting their schools.