Amendment 66 aims to spend more on schools

Editor’s note: Now through the Nov. 5 election, the Herald is examining common claims made in ballot campaigns.

Campaign: Amendment 66, an income tax increase for public schools.

Claim: Amendment 66 “will strengthen every school district.”

Who is saying it: The pro-Amendment 66 campaign, on Twitter on Monday.

While this claim is difficult to evaluate because of the state’s complicated school-funding formula, every district would get at least a slight increase in funding.

For some districts, though, the increase is negligible, and for others, the creation of full-day kindergarten will lead to a per-pupil loss in funding.

According to the state Department of Education’s current projections, supplied by the Yes on 66 campaign, 18 school districts are predicted to receive less money per student if Amendment 66 passes.

This is because part-time kindergarten students will be counted as full-time students.

However, not every district will convert to full-day kindergarten right away.

To prepare for Amendment 66, the Legislature rewrote the state’s 20-year-old school finance formula in a way that favors districts with more kids who are learning English or at risk of dropping out.

An early version of the new formula would have cost schools in Durango and Bayfield, but amendments made sure that local schools would share in the wealth.

Because of the kindergarten expansion, current projections show that Ignacio schools would lose $71 per student.

Ouray would lose $64 and San Miguel schools would be among the biggest losers – $294 per student in Telluride and $451 in Norwood. Mancos schools would see an increase of just $4 per student if current projections hold.

All districts, however, would share in school policy changes that the amendment would bring, including money dedicated to innovative teaching and transparency requirements to let taxpayers see how districts are spending their money.

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