Degrees and Certifications:
“But those of us who are lucky enough to choose where we live would do well to ask ourselves, as part of that calculation, whether the choices we make for ourselves are necessarily the best for our home communities — and for the country.”
JD Vance, NY Times, The Opinion Pages, “Why I’m Moving Home”
JD Vance addresses pertinent community issues in both his #1 New York Times Bestseller, Hillbilly Elegy, and in the New York Times article quoted above. I’d like to piggyback on his passion about giving back to our communities. He chose to move back to his home state of Ohio, at financial cost to himself, in order to exemplify what he believes. Many of us intentionally choose to live in the Tri-Lakes area. We are making an investment in our community wherever we choose to live, and supporting the infrastructure of our community matters a great deal. Communities don’t survive and thrive without consistent investments.
While the community that Vance grew up in is losing talented people, Colorado is losing funding. For the past couple of months, I’ve written about education funding in Colorado. So many people are not aware of how dire the funding situation is in Colorado and that the funding concerns are not just limited to education. When we consider the “pie” that contributes to the K-12 revenue stream, the percentage of funding originating from property taxes has steadily declined. In the 1980s local property taxes funded 54% of Colorado school budgets. By 2015, this percentage had dropped to 34%. The state must now “backfill” a greater percent of this pie than it has in the past, putting additional demands on the already strained state budget. The state of Colorado cannot keep up, and as a result, local schools and students continue to experience the ramifications of decreased funding.
Three amendments to the Colorado Constitution (Amendment 23, TABOR, and Gallagher) impact K-12 education funding. The convergence of these amendments has created a financial entanglement that continues to add increasing pressure on the state budget for all Colorado services. The Colorado Fiscal Institute has a great video that explains how TABOR and Gallagher affect property taxes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cZgZL8Gj20).
We benefit from this beautiful place we call home. Property values tend to be 10-28% higher in areas with strong school districts. If houses around you are selling as quickly as the houses in my neighborhood, you are experiencing how popular our area is and the impact of our quality school district. The additional construction of new homes will create an influx of more students and some additional per pupil funding from the state. Unfortunately, increased student enrollment and the funding that results will not provide adequate resources to fully support the education that Lewis-Palmer residents expect. This community and its school district need your continued support and investments to provide the best for our hometown. Please take time to learn more at lewispalmer.org and on LPSD’s Facebook page, LewisPalmer38.