• Does Adams 12 have a Priority Problem or a Funding Problem?

    Vote NO on the 5C Mill Levy Override Ballot Question

    I serve on the Adams 12 Board of Education.  I’m not writing this letter as a board representative but rather as a well-informed community member.

    I have one big question for the voters in Adams 12 to consider – Does the school district have a funding problem or a priority problem?

    I’ve been involved as a parent leader and as a board member for the last 15 years.  During this time one particular budget item has aroused my particular hostility because it helps relatively few and harms our students.  This budget item is the Longevity Stipend that we pay out to retirees.

    Keeping the Longevity Stipends over mission critical budget items is the reason I voted “NO” as a board member for putting the Adams 12 Mill Levy Override Ballot Question 5C on this year’s ballot.

    The Longevity Stipends pay retired staff additional funds above and beyond their state retirement pension from PERA.  These stipend payouts max out at over $85,000 per retiree and are exceedingly generous when the revenue is healthy.  However it is difficult to justify during budget cuts like those of the last 8 years.  At first blush this may sound like an argument for more funding but let’s take a closer look.

    When Adams 12 makes budget cuts it is important to see what is cut and what remains.  The items that are cut release funding for the budget items that remain.  One hopes the remaining budget items are the highest priorities and that budget cuts have the least significant impact on our students and their families.

    As I noted above the district chose to keep the Longevity Stipends.  Here’s what Adams 12 CUT to keep the Longevity Stipends:

    • Counselors
    • Campus Security personnel
    • Academic Interventionists
    • Middle School sports
    • Outdoor Education for 6th graders
    • Maintenance
    • And Adams 12 increased numerous fees on families

    Eliminating the Longevity Stipends would have drastically reduced or eliminated the cuts listed above.

    How much does the stipend cost each year?  Adams 12 budgets $15 million annually for extra funding to retirees instead of supporting students.  It’s also more than half the amount the district is looking to receive from Ballot Measure 5C.

    If a wage earner in your household had a large pay cut or a layoff would you reduce your grocery spending to keep HBO?  Would you move to less costly housing so that you could keep buying video games?  Would you sell your car and take the bus so you could keep going to dinners and movies?  Yet that’s essentially what Adams 12 did when they kept the Longevity Stipends and reduced spending on budget items that impact students and families.  Now they’re asking voters for more money when they haven’t honored taxpayers with their recent priorities.

    I have commented extensively on the Longevity Stipends during board meetings but it has received very little external scrutiny.  It is a well-kept secret in nearly all respects and when I explain this issue to neighbors and community members they become understandably upset.  I personally feel that the District’s support of Longevity Stipends over student needs is insulting to taxpayers in Adams 12.

    I am only 1 vote out of 5 on the board and as such I’m convinced the only way the district will align their budget priorities with those of our community is by being told “no thanks” on this vote.  So if you believe like I do that Adams 12 has a priority problem please vote NO on 5C.

    It has been my pleasure serving as an advocate for families and taxpayers for the last seven years on the Adams 12 Board of Education.

    Norm Jennings

    Posted by Dana West @ 6:40 am for Adams County Politics, Ballot Issue, Debt/Deficit, Editorial, Education |

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