Salvaging success from ballot defeat

Supporters of Referred Measure 3B — the property tax increase for School District 51 that was soundly defeated by voters Tuesday — are searching this week for other ways to assist the school district without raising taxes.

It’s an encouraging development, a sign that many people want to prevent the deterioration of our local education system, even in the face of diminishing public funding.

Ideas include Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland’s suggestion that those who voted for Measure 3B donate directly to the schools what they would have paid in additional property taxes if the ballot measure had passed.

Rowland and others have also encouraged more volunteerism in the schools and more cooperation between the school district and other local governments to reduce duplication and costs.

A good deal of that sort of cooperation is already occurring in such things as working together on parks and recreation facilities that serve various populations. But there is no doubt room for more.

Others want to push the state Legislature to revamp the school finance act, which perpetually keeps District 51 near the bottom of the state’s school districts in terms of funding per pupil.

District 51 officials this week have received more offers from people wanting to volunteer in the schools, and from people wanting to contribute financially.

And just this fall, the district established a separate, nonprofit entity, the District 51 Foundation, with the aim of raising non-tax money to assist the district.

School District 51 voters were hardly alone in rejecting additional taxes this year. Proposition 103, the statewide ballot measure to raise sales and income taxes for education, lost by a wide margin across the state.

Altogether, more than a dozen local school financing questions were defeated in Colorado this week, the Associated Press reported. Also, tax measures for a recreation center and a library were rejected.

And it’s not just tax increases. Customer anger this week forced Bank of America to drop its plans to charge its customers fees for using debit cards.

Clearly, people throughout Colorado and this nation are in no mood to pay more in taxes or fees in the current economy.

Still, building and operating schools have always been community undertakings, from the days of one-room schoolhouses to today’s large districts with multiple school facilities.

So it is welcome to see that many people in the Grand Valley are embracing that community spirit, looking for new ways to assist the schools, even if there is little collective enthusiasm for tax increases.

People can donate money to the district by making checks to the District 51 Foundation, and mailing them to 2115 Grand Avenue, Grand Junction, Colo., 81505


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