(Peak note: Leading proponents of Amendment 66 have admitted raising taxes by a billion dollars won’t decrease student fees. For parents – a billion bucks more and you still have to pay textbook fees?)
Undoubtedly, our society has pooled its financial resources to offer a free public education for our residents. Whether you have eight kids in public school or no kids, everyone is paying a similar amount into the system depending on your income, purchasing power and property tax. But how much should parents pay over general taxpayers?
Under Amendment 66, proponents will make the case that our education system is underfunded and student achievement will continue to decline unless taxpayers pump another $1 billion into the state’s general fund.
One of the campaign’s first earned media salvos came in Sunday’s The Denver Post. The article explains how parents are forced to pay more for their children to attend and participate in school activities. It highlighted a mother of four children, all of whom attend public school in Adams County. The family owes $600 in fees to the school district for “transportation, textbooks, physical-education uniforms and advanced courses.” The mother admitted to The Post, “It’s very frustrating since we pay taxes, too.”
I can see how that would be frustrating. Imagine how frustrating it is for a couple who doesn’t or can’t have kids. I bet they would be frustrated to pay a Cherry Creek student’s $90 to play on the soccer team. Or maybe Douglas County’s $150 annual transportation fee. Or even pay $125 per year to pay for a Jefferson County student’s parking fee. I mean, with car payments and insurance, how can we expect a student to pay an additional $125 to park her Camero too?
The question for taxpayers considering the $1 billion public education tax increase is how much of these taxes will now offset the costs above? There is a clearly a common sense reason for expecting parents to take responsibility for getting their child to school and paying for sporting equipment, band instruments and other extracurricular fees.
As a father of two kids in public school, I accept financial responsibility for their well-being. We have one playing soccer outside of the school system. Registration and equipment is expensive, but it’s my cost to bear, not my neighbor’s.
I recognize families fall on hard times and any additional cost may impact their budgets. But instead of raising taxes on everyone, communities and non-profits have filled in the gaps. This is exactly why PTA’s and boosters exist, to help offset these costs.
Maybe instead of raising $20 million for campaign consultants, petition circulators and television ad time, why not create a non-profit to help students pay for AP Calculus books and classes, football program registration fees or transportation costs? That way it supports the kids who need it most.