Local school districts say it’s tough to attract and keep qualified teachers because of the high cost of living and low school funding, but a state ballot initiative this fall could help.
Amendment 73 would raise funding for preschool through 12th grade, primarily through a new income tax that would apply to people who make more than $150,000 per year.
All local school districts would see a significant bump in state funding if this passes. Roaring Fork Schools, for example, would receive an additional $9 million, which amounts to about 40 percent more money than the district currently gets from the state.
Roaring Fork School District Superintendent Rob Stein said the biggest priority for that potential funding would be recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers and staff.
“We’re going to increasingly be seeing classrooms without teachers who are qualified to teach those subjects if we don’t do something to adjust the wages of our staff,” he said.
The district is having trouble finding teachers who are certified to teach in certain subject areas, like math, bilingual education, special education and they’ve seen an increase in alternative licensures.
State funds for public education now come from property taxes; Amendment 73 would add income tax. The state estimates that about 8 percent of Colorado’s population would provide the additional funds. The Amendment would also increase the corporate income tax rate and make some changes to stabilize revenue that comes in through property taxes.