2019 Mill Levy Override FAQs

Larimer County’s results from the election on Nov. 5, 2019, show that Ballot Issue 4A passed, with about 61% of voters supporting the PSD mill levy override.
Screen shot of PSD Mill Levy  Override Ballot Issue 4A fact sheet.

The mill levy override provides $18 million annually to raise starting educator salaries to a competitive level, restructure the teacher salary schedule to maintain competitive wages, maintain competitive wages for support staff (ex. custodians, bus drivers, child nutrition staff), hire mental health professional positions to support students, and enhance school safety and security. 

 

Frequently asked questions

Please see below for frequently asked questions about the PSD mill levy override measure. You can also visit the 2019 Mill Levy Override web page for more information. 

If you have additional questions, please email info@psdschools.org. The Board of Education may be reached at boe@psdschools.org.

How does the district use the mill levy override money?

School funding in Colorado consistently ranks among the lowest the nation in terms of per-pupil funding. Under the current state funding formula used by the Colorado state legislature to allocate school funding, PSD receives the lowest amount of per-pupil funding allowed by state law. Currently, PSD receives about $8,050 in state funding a year per student, while school districts like Greeley’s Weld District 6 ($8,326), Longmont’s St. Vrain Valley School District ($8,273), Windsor’s Weld RE-4 ($8,053) Thompson School District ($8,052) receive more state dollars.

PSD uses mill levy override money for:

  • Increasing first-year teacher salaries to a competitive level, beginning in the 2020-2021 budget year
  • Restructuring the teacher salary schedule to maintain competitive wages and allow PSD to recruit and retain high-quality teachers 
  • Maintaining competitive wages for support staff, including classified employees such as bus drivers, paraprofessionals, child nutrition staff and custodians
  • Supporting students’ mental health, by hiring mental health professionals, such as counselors
  • Enhancing school safety and security
  • This money will NOT be used to fund salary increases for district administrators, such as the superintendent, central administrative staff, school principals, assistant principals, and all other positions on PSD’s Administrator and Professional Salary Schedule. 
  • This money will NOT be used to pay for capital improvements (see definition in FAQ below) 

What did PSD increase first-year teacher salaries to? How do PSD’s starting teacher salaries compare to neighboring school districts?

PSD and the Poudre Education Association targeted a starting teacher salary that is approximate to the current starting teacher salary in Longmont’s St. Vrain Valley School District ($43,500). 

You may compare PSD’s starting teacher salaries to that of its neighboring school districts in the second question posted on this Frequently Asked Questions guide web page.In 2019-2020, PSD’s starting teachers began the school year earning less than their counterparts in neighboring school districts, including those in Greeley and Loveland. 

DistrictStarting Salary w/Bachelor'sStarting Salary w/Master'sStarting Salary w/Doctorate or MA 75
St. Vrain Valley School District (Longmont)$43,500$48,000$54,000
Thompson School District (Loveland)$40,000$43,610$48,136
Weld District 6 (Greeley)$39,270$43,346$49,043

Weld RE-4 (Windsor)

$38,750$43,613$49,345
Poudre School District$38,731$42,856$47,019

 

How does PSD's state funding compare to nearby districts?

Review the district’s annual budgets and learn more on the PSD’s Finance and Budget web page.

PSD is known as a “floor-funded” district. That means that it receives the lowest amount of state funding allowed by Colorado law. All districts start on equal footing, receiving base state funding. The state provides additional state funding based on factors like the number of students eligible for free meals (at-risk student population), enrollment size, and location. These factors are dictated by the state K-12 funding formula.

A larger amount of money is typically given to extremely small districts to account for economies of scale. With more than 30,000 students, PSD is the ninth-largest district in the state. PSD does have at-risk students but not a higher than average percentage of those who qualify for free meals across the state. Third, the state funds cost-of-living increases to intentionally increase salaries in districts where the cost of living is considered higher than others. The cost of living in Northern Colorado has outpaced increases provided in the state K-12 funding formula.

All those factors together make PSD a floor-funded district, one of about a dozen in the state.

PSD’s state per-pupil revenue for the 2019-20 budget year is $8,050. Greeley’s Weld District 6 gets $8,326; St. Vrain Valley School District receives $8,273; Weld RE-4 in Windsor gets $8,053; and Thompson School District, which joins PSD at the floor, gets $8,052 per pupil. 

In the past 30 years, voters have supplemented the district’s state funding by supporting PSD with mill levy overrides and bond initiatives in 1988, 1996, 2000, 2010 and, most recently in 2016. PSD is grateful for this support, which has provided the resources needed to build new schools, increase staffing, and offer programming that provides students in Northern Colorado with the best education possible. Over the decades, PSD voters have approved $43 million annually in mill levy overrides, a mechanism that PSD voters authorized to give PSD additional money beyond the funding provided by Colorado’s Public School Finance Act of 1994. You can learn more about where these dollars were and are being spent on PSD’s Mill and Bond Initiatives web page.

Thompson School District voters recently passed a mill levy override to pay for salary increases.

 

What is a mill levy override?

What is a mill levy override?

 A mill levy override is a way for community members to give their local school district additional money on top of state-provided funding in the form of a property tax increase. Mill levies are typically used for ongoing expenses, such as technology purchases or teacher salaries. 

Registered voters who live within PSD’s geographic boundaries are eligible to vote on this measure.

What about past PSD mill levy overrides? We voted for a bond and levy override in 2016. Where did that money go?

Has PSD asked for a mill levy override in the past?

 This mill levy override is the first that PSD has asked voters to approve to fund increases specifically for salaries. 

We voted for a bond and mill levy override in 2016. Where did that money go?

  • The 2016 bond and mill levy override are funding the construction of three new schools, a new athletics complex, a new transportation maintenance facility, and improvements to all existing 50 schools. The 2016 mill levy will fund start-up costs for new schools as well as costs for growth across the district. You can read about our progress on projects on the 2016 Bond and Mill Levy Override web page. 
  • We are hard at work making district-wide improvements and moving forward with new construction, so our students have the best learning environment possible. More detailed information is available on the 2016 Bond and Mill Levy Override web page.

How much does the mill levy override cost me? What does it cost businesses?

The mill levy override generates roughly $18 million for PSD every year, beginning in the 2019-2020 budget year. It costs residential property owners less than $3 more per month for every $100,000 of assessed property value. 

For someone who owns a home assessed at $400,000, this means an increase of approximately $137 a year. 

Find your home’s assessed value on the Larmer County website.

As an approximate estimate, it will cost businesses about four times the residential increase. 

I thought tax money from marijuana sales was supposed to fund schools. Where does that money go?

  • Marijuana tax dollars do not fund school operating budgets. Instead, these dollars fund a competitive grant program. All 178 Colorado school districts are eligible to compete for these funds via the grant program. If awarded, these grant dollars can fund: 
    • Capital construction through a matching Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program, 
    • Early literacy
    • Substance abuse and health-related program
    • School bullying prevention
    • Drop-out prevention.
  • There is not nearly enough “pot money” earmarked for schools to make a significant difference for Colorado’s education funding. In fiscal year 2017-18, the Colorado Department of Education’s total marijuana revenue was $90.3 million. The State of Colorado’s entire K-12 budget that fiscal year was $5.6 billion. That means marijuana revenue comprised less than 2 percent of the state’s education budget. 

Does money from this mill levy override go to charter schools?

Yes, as required by law, PSD-authorized charter schools receive a portion of funds generated by the PSD mill levy override. Of the $18 million generated annually, about $1.3 million goes to PSD-authorized charter schools, in accordance with House Bill 17-1735.

 

How does PSD define "capital" improvements, "support staff," and "administration" (when the district says no money from this mill levy override would go to "administration salaries")

How does PSD define "capital improvements"?

A capital improvement is the addition of a permanent structural change or the restoration of some aspect of a property that will either enhance the property’s overall value, prolongs its useful life, or adapt it to new uses.
 

How does PSD define "support staff"?

Support staff are classified employees, or those who appear on PSD’s classified salary schedules. Positions include bus drivers, custodians, speech pathologists, child nutrition staff, nurses, paraprofessionals, and many more.
 

How does PSD define “administration” when the district says no money from this mill levy override would go to “administration salaries”? 

Administrators are those who appear on PSD’s administrator and professional salary schedule. This employee group includes the superintendent, executive directors, directors, principals and assistant principals, among others.

Do teachers work during the summer?

PSD teachers work 186 days each year, per their contract. Teachers are exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Teachers in neighboring school districts also work similar contracted schedules, and PSD needs to remain competitive with surrounding districts. As professionals, they also have options to engage in professional development outside of their contracted hours. For example, some may choose to work during the summer, as part of district opportunities. Anecdotally, PSD staff hear that teachers are working multiple jobs.

Does money from the 2019 mill levy override go to PERA?

The answer is somewhat complex: Some of the mill levy override ultimately goes to PERA, or the Public Employees Retirement Association. If PSD didn’t pay PERA contributions from the mill levy override tax revenues, the district would have to use money from somewhere else in the budget to cover the difference. The money generated by the mill levy override is used to support salary increases, including any required contributions such as PERA. PSD is required to make contributions to PERA.

 How does this help with mental health and safety and security positions in PSD? How do the salaries of PSD’s mental health professionals compare to teacher salaries?

PSD’s mental health professionals include, but aren’t limited to, counselors, social workers, psychologists, autism coaches, behavioral specialists and more. Those positions are included in PSD’s licensed/teacher salary schedule, available on the PSD website.

Two million of the $18 million in revenues generated annually goes to funding mental health and safety/security positions. School safety and security, and mental health have long been priorities in PSD and of the Board of Education.

Is the mill levy override able to keep up with changes over time?

Different than past mill levy overrides, this mill levy is tied to the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood Consumer Price Index, which is an indicator of inflation. That means the amount collected each year could increase or decrease, based on that index. It’s important to note that PSD does not have control over or influence the index.

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