4A and 4B Frequently Asked Questions
A. Measures 4A and 4B will cost homeowners in the Cherry Creek School District $1.65 per month, per $100,000 of home value. For example, the owner of a home valued at $420,000 will pay $7 per month. ($420,000 is the “average” value of a home in the Cherry Creek School District.)
A. Yes. Measure 4A will provide operating funds that will allow Cherry Creek Schools to continue to recruit and retain the best classroom teachers. CCSD teachers have an average of 10.6 years of experience and more than 79% of faculty members hold advanced decrees. Studies have shown that great teachers are the most significant factor when it comes to students’ academic success.
A. Measure 4A will provide operating funds that will allow Cherry Creek Schools to continue to have a registered nurse in every school, and follow the 3-2-1 mental health model, which means three mental health professionals, such as school psychologists, social workers and/or counselors, at high schools, two at middle schools and one at elementary schools.
Measure 4B will provide $7m to building a mental health/day treatment center to support students, since facilities outside the district are often not available to students. In addition, 4B will provide $26 million for safety and security improvements, specifically, a new intercom system for schools, push-button deadbolt locks for all classroom doors, secure double vestibules at elementary schools, as well as improved security camera systems and fire alarm systems.
A. Measure 4B will provide $12 million to move the district toward a 1:1 (one student per device) technology plan and ensure that all students have access to the technology they need to learn during any future periods of Remote learning.
4B will also provide $1.5 million to every high school in the district to create innovative learning environments and acquire technical equipment aligned with career and technical training and industry certifications.
In addition, 4B will provide $5 million to expand the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus, a state-of-the-art college and career preparatory facility that opened in 2019 and is already nearing capacity as it helps students prepare for both higher education and successful careers in high-demand fields.
A. The Cherry Creek School District is facing a $60 million budget deficit over the next two years, due to chronic underfunding by the state of Colorado and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although Amendment 23, approved by Colorado voters in 2000, mandated that Colorado public schools be funded at the rate of inflation, the state of Colorado has not been able to meet that mandate. Through the so-called “Negative Factor,” now called the “Budget Stabilization” factor, the state has shorted Cherry Creek Schools by half a billion dollars over the past decade.
Those dire conditions have now been compounded by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including an additional $25 million cut in state funding.
A. The 2016 bond addressed the critical need to provide more innovative learning opportunities, through K-8 Innovation Spaces and the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus, to ensure that CCSD students are equipped for success in their futures. It also addressed urgent safety and security needs and some deferred maintenance. All 2016 bond projects have bee completed.
Because of current economic conditions, the district reduced the amount of the 2020 bond request from $771 million in needs identified by the Budget Task Force to $300 million in priorities identified this spring, and after the onset of the pandemic down to only $150 million of the most critical items, including security and mental health projects that impact student safety and well-being, and urgent maintenance projects, which protect the investment taxpayers have already made in CCSD schools and facilities.
Cherry Creek Schools is one of the few school districts in Colorado to have a credit rating of AA1, which is a testament to the district’s financial management and fiscal responsibility. The AA1 credit rating qualifies CCSD for the lowest interest rates possible, saving taxpayers money. (Note: No Colorado school districts hold a AAA credit rating, the highest possible rating.)
A. Yes, but the $1.65 per month per $100,000 of home value covers both 4A and 4B.
A. The Cherry Creek School District typically asks voters to approve bond funding every four years, during presidential election years, to maintain the educational excellence district residents expect. Voters have approved nearly every CCSD ballot issue since the district was founded in 1950. The exception was one ballot question in the 1992, which was approved the following election year.
A. Yes. Even if you do not have children in school, this election is important. Strong schools are essential to strong communities, economic stability and increased property values. An excellent school system keeps neighborhoods strong and property values high, which benefits everyone.
A. The Cherry Creek School District has received a very small amount of money from the legalization of marijuana restricted for use in bullying prevention efforts. It is a drop in the bucket of our overall budget. Statewide, only about 16% of marijuana tax revenue goes toward public education, and most of that goes to rural school districts through the BEST Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund.
A. Yes. Students will be impacted by reduced staffing, larger class sizes, reduced programming. Families may be affected by future boundary changes in order to avoid overcrowding at some schools, and too few students at others.
A. If the district goes remote for several months or more due to COVID, we have warned some employee groups that we may not be able to continue to pay them like we did last spring. While this may provide some short-term relief to the budget, it is likely that the district will be impacted by a prolonged economic downturn that would come with a state shutdown associated with an outbreak of COVID. It is possible that the state will make a mid-year rescission this year and the district could be shorted even more school funding.
A. The district has been facing a looming budget crisis due to chronic underfunding from the state of Colorado as well as rising costs associated with supports for special education, mental health, English learners, and gifted and talented students. Additionally, the district is going to see a decrease in enrollment in the near future for the first time in recent history, which will impact revenues. The combination of these factors added up to a need for an election. However, the impact of the pandemic has compounded our budget crisis.
A. We deeply value all residents of our community, and we recognize that there are many ways that renters contribute to our society. However, only property owners pay property taxes.
A. Chronic underfunding by the state of Colorado is a threat to Cherry Creek excellence. Over the past decade, Cherry Creek Schools has been shorted a half billion dollars due to the Budget Stabilization Factor, formerly called the Negative Factor. With a new $25 million cut from the state this year, the district now faces a budget deficit of $60 million over the next two years. We will have to make catastrophic cuts to teachers and staff to fill that hole, causing much larger class sizes.
Cherry Creek School District serves 55,000 kids across 108 square miles, and within our district we have schools that are 80% Free and Reduced Price Lunch. There is great need in our district.
Cherry Creek School District has been a good steward of taxpayer dollars and has kept taxes relatively low for Cherry Creek families. The tax rate for residents living in the Cherry Creek School District is about 50 mills, compared with 82 mills in Aurora and 57 mills in Littleton.
A. It is true that overall district enrollment is leveling off and is projected to start declining in the near future. Most of the slowdown is in the west side of the district. However, we are still seeing growth out east as new housing developments are being completed. A new elementary school in the Blackstone area would alleviate crowding at other area elementary schools and ensure that those schools do not have to go on a four-track schedule.
A. A new mental health day treatment facility will help all students by alleviating some of the demands on school mental health teams. Also, the state of Colorado has been closing treatment facilities and causing a burden on local districts as well as on families who are seeking care. Cherry Creek Schools has seen a steady increase in the cost of serving students who need mental health supports. Last year alone, the district spent $10 million on mental health staffing and received no additional revenue from the state to support that investment. The new facility will help alleviate some of the strain on current resources.