2019 Mill Levy Override FAQs

While the results must be finalized, Larimer County’s unofficial 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 will provide $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.

Why is PSD asking for funding? How will 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 will use 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) 

How do PSD’s starting teacher salaries compare to neighboring school districts?

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?

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.

See the progress on 2016 bond projects in this video:

 

How does PSD spend its money now?

Here’s a breakdown of how PSD allocates its money:

  • 85 cents of every dollar of PSD funding goes directly to schools. This money pays for teacher salaries, security, support staff, supplies, classroom technology, transportation, and more.
     
  • 15 cents of every dollar funds services including building and grounds maintenance, professional development, human resources, finance, and more.
     
  • Learn more in this PSD Know the Budget video. 

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

What will I be asked to vote on? What exactly is a mill levy override and who can vote on the measure?

What will I be asked to vote on? 

In November, voters will decide whether to approve a mill levy override that would provide Poudre School District with $18 million annually to fund ongoing expenses. This money would be used 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. 
 

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. 
 

Who can vote on this measure?

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

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

 If passed, this mill levy override would be 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.

Property assessments in Larimer County went up this year. What did that mean for PSD?

Although some property owners saw their tax bills change as a result of an increase in their property’s assessed value, PSD received the same amount of money it would have if local property tax revenue remained flat. Because PSD is funded by both the state of Colorado and local taxes, when local property tax revenues increase, the state has historically contributed less to K-12 education, leaving the overall funding amount the same.

If the mill levy override passes, how much will it cost me?

The proposed mill levy override would generate roughly $18 million for PSD every year, beginning in the 2019-2020 budget year. It would cost 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 would mean an increase of approximately $137 a year. 

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

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. 

Will money from this mill levy override go to charter schools if it passes?

Yes, as required by law, the five PSD-authorized charter schools would receive a portion of funds generated by a PSD mill levy override, should it pass. Of the $18 million generated annually, about $1.3 million would go 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.

If the mill levy override passes, what will it cost? What does that mean for businesses?

As an approximate estimate, it will cost businesses about four times the residential increase. For a home with an assessed value of $400,000, the annual property tax increase would be about $137 per year.

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.

Will any money from the 2019 mill levy override go to PERA?

The answer is somewhat complex: Some of the mill levy override would ultimately go 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, should it pass, would be used to support salary increases, including any required contributions such as PERA. Poudre School District is required to make contributions to PERA.

What are the effects of “Debrucing,” should it pass?

This November, voters will be asked to consider Proposition CC, which would allow the State of Colorado to retain excess revenue it is currently required to refund under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, better known as TABOR. It would direct retained funds to be used for education and transportation purposes.

While it’s unclear what, exactly, this would mean for PSD, in general we would expect some additional one-time funding for education across the state.

PSD is aware of other measures on the November 2019 ballot including a proposed Larimer County sales tax increase of a half cent; revenue would fund regional transit projects.

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.

What research did PSD do to understand whether the mill levy override was something teachers would support?

Prior to the Board of Education’s unanimous Aug. 27 vote to refer the mill levy override question to the ballot, an outside company was hired to conduct polling. The intention was to determine whether there was enough community support, should the Board of Education move forward with referring a measure to the ballot. The community poll results are available here.

The ballot title (the text voters will see when they receive their ballots) for Ballot Issue 4A is the result of weeks of collaboration by a working group comprised of PSD staff, two representatives from the Board of Education, and representatives of the Poudre Education Association, including PEA President Tom List. This group also sought input from legal counsel and representatives of Strategies360, the polling company hired by the Board of Education during research about whether there was enough community support to pursue a mill levy override.

If Ballot Issue 4A passes, what would PSD increase first-year teacher salaries to?

While that specific figure is subject to annual negotiations, should 4A pass, PSD and the Poudre Education Association would like to target 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.
 

Will this mill levy override be able to keep up with changes we might see over time?

Different than PSD’s past mill levy overrides, if 4A were to pass, this mill levy would be 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.

How many and what type of mental health and safety and security positions would PSD add, should this pass?

Should Ballot Issue 4A pass, $2 million of the $18 million in revenues generated annually would go 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. The district has added one or two positions each year, in recent years.

PSD does not yet have a specific number or breakdown of positions identified at this time. If the measure passes, PSD make a recommendation about the hiring of future personnel, as part of the district’s annual budget process. 

What are arguments for and against the ballot measure?

 

 

Arguments "FOR"

  • The cost of living here is high. Yet, teacher salaries are lower in PSD than other neighboring school districts. PSD needs this funding to offer competitive salaries in order to attract and retain the high-quality teachers our students deserve. 
     
  • PSD must also ensure our support staff receive a salary that allows them to live in the communities they serve. These positions support our students every day. 
     
  • PSD must support our students’ mental health needs and enhance school safety and security to ensure students have a safe learning environment in order to thrive. 
     
  • This initiative will not fund administration salaries or capital improvements. 

 

Arguments "Against"

  • PSD voters approved a bond and mill levy override in the November 2016 election. It is too soon for the school district to ask voters to approve a tax increase. 
     
  • What teachers do for our community is critical. However, wages have been stagnant in our communities, and many people haven’t received raises.  
     
  •  Mental health and school safety should be top priorities, but the solution is not to hire more personnel. 
     
  • PSD needs to manage its resources to live within its means and stop asking for more money. 
     
  • This creates an additional burden on taxpayers and will not guarantee improvement in academic achievement. 

 

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