COLORADO SPRINGS — Tuesday's election was a big win for Colorado Springs School District 11. The community voted to allow the district to retain money restricted by the TABOR amendment, otherwise known as Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which was passed in 1992.
The bill states any tax increases will be decided by a vote of the people, which didn't change during the vote. In addition to that, the bill places limits on how much revenue is kept, which was the change voters voted on.
Before the election, District 11 was one of four school districts in the state, out of 178, who still had a TABOR limit imposed. That means, if the district went above their revenue limit, they'd be required to refund money back to taxpayers, but Tuesday's vote on ballot issue 4A changes that.
"It did keep us from accepting revenue from federal, state and local programs, some grants as well as some private donors," said Devra Ashby, the chief communication's officer for District 11. "That really did cripple us."
Voting "yes" on the TABOR revenue retention doesn't raise taxes for taxpayers, but now, it will protect revenue streams to vital school programs in the district.
Ashby said the vote comes at a good time because over the past several decades school's budgets have taken a hit.
"It's exciting. We get to put the funds back into the schools, back into our programs, back into our salaries, back into everything that makes our schools great and wonderful," said Ashby.
"We want to make sure our kids have the best schools and best teachers that we can provide them and this will help us do that," said Thomas Moore, a parent to two students in the district.
Moore is also the vice president for the PTA at Jenkins Middle School and mentioned this will also help the district recruit teachers.
"We want quality educators, and those teachers are going to go where they can get the most money," said Moore. "So I think reaction from parents is good. This is something that D11 needed, because they're going to get the additional money to spend on the students with supplies that are needed in the classroom.
While schools are funded based on enrollment, during the pandemic, enrollment dropped in D11. Ashby says however, with the vote, the district sees that voters value schools in their community during tough times.
"It's a vicious cycle so right now this is a very positive light, it's going to move us forward, and as we move forward overcoming this pandemic," said Ashby. "We're really starting to see that taxpayer's value their neighborhoods schools, and their local school district, and we're excited about that."
The revenue that stays in District 11 can go toward funding programs like mental health services, childhood literacy, and jumpstarting a student's career, which are programs largely funded by grants.