Mill levy funds will be critical to long-term financial stability in LPS
Thanks to the generous support of the Littleton Public Schools’ community, the mill levy election to increase funding to LPS in the annual amount of $12 million passed. The funds will be used to help maintain the very things the community values most in its schools:
• Maintain class size
• Maintain adequate numbers of well-qualified teachers
• Continue to provide a well-rounded education to all students, which includes art, music, and PE
• Continue to provide a safe environment for our students and employees
• Keep the level of excellence for preparation for success in college and the workplace
It was said from the beginning that mill levy funds are not a cure-all of LPS’ budget woes. Previous cuts are not likely to be restored. The funding will, however, allow LPS to stabilize and maintain what is currently in place.
Indeed, passage of 3A was critical to the district’s ability to stabilize and maintain what is currently in place, as the Colorado Legislature recently passed the largest funding cuts to public education in Colorado’s history for next school year. Each LPS student will receive nearly $500 less in state funding for his or her education in 2011–2012 than in 2010–2011. Combined with other uncontrollable cost increases such as the loss of federal stimulus funds and increasing insurance and pension costs, LPS will experience a shortfall of about $6.5 million for 2011–2012 compared to 2010–2011. It’s important to remember that this shortfall is in addition to the $14 million in cuts LPS has made to its general fund budget in the last three years because of the failing state and national economies and in turn Colorado’s inability to adequately fund K–12 education. Had the mill levy election not passed, LPS would be eliminating more than $6 million-worth of jobs and programs again for next year in addition to the $14 million that has already been cut in the last three years. The education of every LPS student would have suffered.
“We have always felt that there is no better place to be than in LPS, and passage of 3A is just another example of how this community takes care of its own and places a high value on what is best for future generations,” said LPS Board President Bob Colwell. “We are so blessed to serve this wonderful school district and these wonderful people. Thank you so much for passing 3A and for helping LPS keep its tradition of excellence.”
About half of the new mill levy money will have to be used to backfill the hole left by these state budget cuts. That means that only half of the mill levy funds will remain to help stabilize the district and maintain the current level of excellence in programming and staffing. It is clear that, due to state budget cuts, the mill levy funds will not stretch as long into the future as was hoped. In fact, it is anticipated that if state funding cuts continue, the mill levy funds could last three years or less.