If passed 65 percent of school budgets will be allocated to classroom expenses
On Nov. 7, Coloradans will decide whether the state’s constitution should be changed to mandate that school districts spend at least 65 percent of their budget on specific classroom expenses.
Some examples of what would be included in the requirements, should Amendment 39 pass, are teachers, classroom aides, tutors, classroom computers, books and libraries. Building construction, school board member salaries, maintenance and repairs are not included in this provision.
Some CU students find this type of spending requirement to be too stringent.
“I’m against Amendment 39,” said Meghann Toner, a senior biological sciences major. “School districts should have greater flexibility in their spending, because one year they may need money to fund a specific project and not be able to afford it if the money is mandated to the classroom.”
In the 2006 state ballot analysis, or the Blue Book, supporters of the amendment tote it as a way of requiring districts to focus resources on educating students in the classroom. Sarah Buckley, a senior psychology major, said she agrees and supports the amendment.
“I don’t think 65 percent is enough,” Buckley said. “We need more money for teachers and the classroom.”
Also on the ballot in November is Referendum J, which deals with school district spending requirements as well. Voters can choose to vote for one, both or neither of the proposals.
According to the Blue Book, “neither proposal is dependent upon the passage of the other.” However, if both pass, Amendment 39 will supercede Referendum J because it would be a Constitutional amendment.
The main difference in Referendum J is that it would allow voters to exempt districts from the 65 percent requirement. Referendum J also allows spending for principals, support services and support staff as well as Amendment 39’s classroom expenses.
Some students felt the issue was being blown out of proportion.
“I don’t like the idea of changing the Constitution for this issue,” said Courtney Meier, a doctoral candidate in biological sciences. “I think elected local school boards should handle the spending of local districts.”
Hanna Nichols, a senior history and political science major who wants to be a teacher, said the answer isn’t in mandating a spending requirement but increasing the total amount spent on education in the state.