Grassroots St. Vrain

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  • Good morning and thank you for coming. My name is Paula Peairs and I’ve been part of GSV since 2008. Most of you know what GSV is. We are (read mission.) And since our humble beginnings with the 2008 MLO/Bond Issue, we’ve stayed a group of local caring citizens who want to continue to distribute knowledge about education-related issues in Colorado. Some examples of our growth over the past 3 years include 1) LSV which is a district sponsored group that grew out of GSV and now successfully educates involved parents about the “business of education” or how a 30,000 student district is run, 2) connecting with Great Education CO which we realized was important if we were to better understand state-level issues and what drives much of the decision making required at the local level, and 3) our participation with Great Futures CO which is a coalition of groups from around the state that supports stronger education in CO.Grassroots outreach has included 1) soliciting support for the DECIDE ballot initiative, which was considered by the CO legislature last spring and would have allowed voters to decide about increases in revenue for education, and 2) more recently educating members, PTOs and the community about the impact of Prop 101, Amend 60 & Amend 61 on the ballot last fall.But at the heart of it, we are all parents, community members and stakeholders in the SVVSD who can’t believe we’re still talking about millions of dollars in state education cuts for the third year in a row. When our 2008 MLO passed, we were so excited and so optimistic that this was the time that SVVSD was going to excel – we were primed to expand programs, update technology, update facilities, and take education to new heights in SVVSD. I remember when they started mowing the grass at my kid’s elementary school, I almost cried. Despite the economic downturn, our district has risen through the ranks in size and performance. Even with two consecutive years of massive education cuts, we have maintained class sizes and rigor and added program options. But now, with a third year of massive education cuts looming – our dollars are running out. During our outreach last fall to discuss Prop 101, Amend 60 & 61 we mentioned that 2/3 of the revenue raised from the MLO had already been wiped out by the state. Next year, it’s projected that all of the revenue raised will be offset by state cuts and funding levels will be below 2007.SVVSD recently held parent meetings and semi-annual feeder meetings to promote and facilitate understanding/appreciation of what’s going on in the SVVSD. (Our local education is not as horrible as ‘Waiting for Superman’ would lead us to believe.) But at the same time, all the work done at the district and school level is performed within the state framework. It’s really important for parents and advocates of education to understand the state education environment – because it’s hard to improve or even sustain education when budgets are being cuts by 100s of millions of dollars annually.  Our purpose today is to provide an overview of Colorado governance and how we, as parents/advocates for education, play a unique role in Colorado. Voters are the “directors” of state tax dollars – 50% of which go towards education funding. We know talking about state budgets, and ballot initiatives can make people uncomfortable. But the only way we can advocate for maintaining our kid’s education is to understand what drives it and how changes to education funding will affect staffing and programs. You may agree or disagree with the impact of education cuts. But understanding the mechanics within the education system is critical.John Creighton is the President of the SVVSD BOE and also does work for Colorado Non Profit Association. We are very happy to have John here today to share a presentation with us.
  • We approach every day as if we are in the middle of a campaign.
  • Good morning and thank you for coming. My name is Paula Peairs and I’ve been part of GSV since 2008. Most of you know what GSV is. We are (read mission.) And since our humble beginnings with the 2008 MLO/Bond Issue, we’ve stayed a group of local caring citizens who want to continue to distribute knowledge about education-related issues in Colorado. Some examples of our growth over the past 3 years include 1) LSV which is a district sponsored group that grew out of GSV and now successfully educates involved parents about the “business of education” or how a 30,000 student district is run, 2) connecting with Great Education CO which we realized was important if we were to better understand state-level issues and what drives much of the decision making required at the local level, and 3) our participation with Great Futures CO which is a coalition of groups from around the state that supports stronger education in CO.Grassroots outreach has included 1) soliciting support for the DECIDE ballot initiative, which was considered by the CO legislature last spring and would have allowed voters to decide about increases in revenue for education, and 2) more recently educating members, PTOs and the community about the impact of Prop 101, Amend 60 & Amend 61 on the ballot last fall.But at the heart of it, we are all parents, community members and stakeholders in the SVVSD who can’t believe we’re still talking about millions of dollars in state education cuts for the third year in a row. When our 2008 MLO passed, we were so excited and so optimistic that this was the time that SVVSD was going to excel – we were primed to expand programs, update technology, update facilities, and take education to new heights in SVVSD. I remember when they started mowing the grass at my kid’s elementary school, I almost cried. Despite the economic downturn, our district has risen through the ranks in size and performance. Even with two consecutive years of massive education cuts, we have maintained class sizes and rigor and added program options. But now, with a third year of massive education cuts looming – our dollars are running out. During our outreach last fall to discuss Prop 101, Amend 60 & 61 we mentioned that 2/3 of the revenue raised from the MLO had already been wiped out by the state. Next year, it’s projected that all of the revenue raised will be offset by state cuts and funding levels will be below 2007.SVVSD recently held parent meetings and semi-annual feeder meetings to promote and facilitate understanding/appreciation of what’s going on in the SVVSD. (Our local education is not as horrible as ‘Waiting for Superman’ would lead us to believe.) But at the same time, all the work done at the district and school level is performed within the state framework. It’s really important for parents and advocates of education to understand the state education environment – because it’s hard to improve or even sustain education when budgets are being cuts by 100s of millions of dollars annually.  Our purpose today is to provide an overview of Colorado governance and how we, as parents/advocates for education, play a unique role in Colorado. Voters are the “directors” of state tax dollars – 50% of which go towards education funding. We know talking about state budgets, and ballot initiatives can make people uncomfortable. But the only way we can advocate for maintaining our kid’s education is to understand what drives it and how changes to education funding will affect staffing and programs. You may agree or disagree with the impact of education cuts. But understanding the mechanics within the education system is critical.John Creighton is the President of the SVVSD BOE and also does work for Colorado Non Profit Association. We are very happy to have John here today to share a presentation with us.
  • Good morning and thank you for coming. My name is Paula Peairs and I’ve been part of GSV since 2008. Most of you know what GSV is. We are (read mission.) And since our humble beginnings with the 2008 MLO/Bond Issue, we’ve stayed a group of local caring citizens who want to continue to distribute knowledge about education-related issues in Colorado. Some examples of our growth over the past 3 years include 1) LSV which is a district sponsored group that grew out of GSV and now successfully educates involved parents about the “business of education” or how a 30,000 student district is run, 2) connecting with Great Education CO which we realized was important if we were to better understand state-level issues and what drives much of the decision making required at the local level, and 3) our participation with Great Futures CO which is a coalition of groups from around the state that supports stronger education in CO.Grassroots outreach has included 1) soliciting support for the DECIDE ballot initiative, which was considered by the CO legislature last spring and would have allowed voters to decide about increases in revenue for education, and 2) more recently educating members, PTOs and the community about the impact of Prop 101, Amend 60 & Amend 61 on the ballot last fall.But at the heart of it, we are all parents, community members and stakeholders in the SVVSD who can’t believe we’re still talking about millions of dollars in state education cuts for the third year in a row. When our 2008 MLO passed, we were so excited and so optimistic that this was the time that SVVSD was going to excel – we were primed to expand programs, update technology, update facilities, and take education to new heights in SVVSD. I remember when they started mowing the grass at my kid’s elementary school, I almost cried. Despite the economic downturn, our district has risen through the ranks in size and performance. Even with two consecutive years of massive education cuts, we have maintained class sizes and rigor and added program options. But now, with a third year of massive education cuts looming – our dollars are running out. During our outreach last fall to discuss Prop 101, Amend 60 & 61 we mentioned that 2/3 of the revenue raised from the MLO had already been wiped out by the state. Next year, it’s projected that all of the revenue raised will be offset by state cuts and funding levels will be below 2007.SVVSD recently held parent meetings and semi-annual feeder meetings to promote and facilitate understanding/appreciation of what’s going on in the SVVSD. (Our local education is not as horrible as ‘Waiting for Superman’ would lead us to believe.) But at the same time, all the work done at the district and school level is performed within the state framework. It’s really important for parents and advocates of education to understand the state education environment – because it’s hard to improve or even sustain education when budgets are being cuts by 100s of millions of dollars annually.  Our purpose today is to provide an overview of Colorado governance and how we, as parents/advocates for education, play a unique role in Colorado. Voters are the “directors” of state tax dollars – 50% of which go towards education funding. We know talking about state budgets, and ballot initiatives can make people uncomfortable. But the only way we can advocate for maintaining our kid’s education is to understand what drives it and how changes to education funding will affect staffing and programs. You may agree or disagree with the impact of education cuts. But understanding the mechanics within the education system is critical.John Creighton is the President of the SVVSD BOE and also does work for Colorado Non Profit Association. We are very happy to have John here today to share a presentation with us.
  • To continue Grassroots St. Vrain as a viable, current group of engaged citizens who promote quality education in our district, we need to learn as much as possible and stay abreast of current or pending education issues, and reach out to as many stakeholders as possible and keep them informed about important issues, ballot initiatives, campaigns, and state and local level decisions – that ALL impact education. To that end, we are asking those of you here today to participate in sustaining GSV. If we all contribute our skill sets to this mission, it can be sustainable for years to come – and not linked to one person, one issue or one campaign. Here are the area of responsibility we have identified as important for Grassroots to move forward and grow.State Focus – is for members interested in in-depth knowledge of details regarding various issues with a focus on the big picture; the state of Colorado!!Organizers will work to attend State level meetings of interest; such as Great Futures Colorado and report what they learn back to others on GSV.Members in this area may be called upon to put their intimate knowledge to work as speakers at events such as PTO meetings, etc. or as content writers for on-line communications.They will work to make sure our community is learning about what's happening at the state level.  They will put other members in touch with relevant sources at the state and possibly the national level.District and Community Focus – will work to stay abreast of learning opportunities within our community that may be of interest to the GSV list.  This committee will work to bring in relevant speakers and stay current on media coverage in the local news sources.  Members will stay in touch with our administrators of the SVVSD as well as the BOE and other community leaders.Important contacts for this group will be small business owners and  business groups as well as involvement in the local Chamber.  This group may be called upon to leverage contacts within the community.School Focus – is for members interested in being engaged at the local level with an particular focus on our schools.  Members will develop a working knowledge and establish firm contacts with various PTO, PTA, Booster etc. clubs at each level of education.  They may be called upon to share GSV updates and/or make GSV presentations to PTOs, schedule GSV speakers to share important information at school events or organize groups of stakeholders across the district to participate in important GSV initiatives.GSV Administration Focus – This membership group will keep GSV running smoothly by coordinating necessary meetings and managing all content and timing of GSV communications.  Volunteers will share responsibility with subject matter experts to draft emails and important letters, maintain the GSV blog, and prepare power point presentations as projects arise. Some members with technical savvy are necessary to maintain the Go Daddy and Salsa databases. A new component to this group is community outreach whereby members will be responsible for developing new GSV membership within the SVV community.
  • Within each group, we’ve identified important roles. Please take a moment to consider your area of interest. At which level are you interested in expanding/sharing your knowledge? Please keep in mind, we are not asking anyone to over-commit – we are all very busy. But if we pool our resources, GSV will be able to continue growing and build on the strong framework that’s already been established to promote understanding of education issues throughout our district.At this point we will be separating into informal break out groups where you can discuss the functions/responsibilities in each group.Paula Peairs & Alex Sharpe are available to discuss involvement at the state level.I will be available to talk about involvement at the District and Community level.Pat Carson is here to discuss information sharing and communications at the school level.Stacey Bahr is available to talk about GSV coordination which includes preparing GSV communications, database support and community outreach.We have sign up sheets with each group. Please put your names where you think you fit best and will be most comfortable sustaining GSV. Thank you!!
  • Grassroots St. Vrain

    1. 1. Grassroots St Vrain is an independent, non-partisan organization made up of nearly 1,000 volunteers committed to informing and activating citizens on education related issues in the greater <br />St. Vrain Valley towns of Colorado.<br /><ul><li>2008 MLO / Bond Issue
    2. 2. Leadership St. Vrain
    3. 3. Great Education Colorado
    4. 4. Great Futures Colorado
    5. 5. DECIDE ballot initiative
    6. 6. Prop 101, Amendments 60 & 61
    7. 7. What’s to come?</li></li></ul><li>Fiscal Education Network<br />A Project of the<br />Colorado Nonprofit Association<br />
    8. 8. Purpose of Today’s Conversation<br />Understand the fiscal challenges facing Colorado<br />Invite you to host more conversations<br />Provide you with sources of information to learn more<br />
    9. 9. Conversation Ground Rules<br />Understand the challenge and implications of the problem – not everyone is ready to “debate” solutions.<br />“Kitchen table” conversation – everyone participates; no one dominates.<br />Keep an open mind. Listen carefully and try to understand others’ point of view.<br />Help keep discussion on track.<br />It’s okay to disagree, but don’t be disagreeable.<br />Adapted from Harwood Institute for Public Innovation<br />
    10. 10. Introductions<br />Name<br />Hobby or what brings you here today<br />
    11. 11. Opening Questions<br /><ul><li>What makes our community a good place to live?
    12. 12. What public services and infrastructure are important to our quality of life?
    13. 13. What have you heard about what’s going on with Colorado’s budget and funds for public services?</li></li></ul><li>Colorado Voters must be Leaders<br />Consensus: Colorado is facing a long-term budget problem that won’t go away as the economy recovers. <br />Even a strong recovery and sustained job growth over the next 15 years is not enough [to solve the budget problems]. (DU: Center for Colorado’s Economic Future)<br />Coloradans have a unique responsibility to make decisions at the ballot box – budget fixes must be approved by voters. <br />Colorado voters have a duty to learn and make choices about how to balance people’s desire to be a low tax state and maintain services and infrastructure vital to our quality of life.<br />
    14. 14. Public: What’s the right thing to do?<br />We don’t trust government: Coloradans, on average, perceive that government wastes 42 cents of every tax dollar. Trust in public officials at historic lows.<br />We oppose more spending cuts: Majority of voters agree cutting vital public services during a recession hurts our families and our economy, while reducing our quality of life.<br />We agree with how state funds are spent: Majority agree education, basic health care, public safety, senior services, highways and transit are underfunded and oppose more cuts.<br />We’re not sure if now is the time to act: Majority of voters are concerned about raising taxes during a recession.<br />Colorado Nonprofit Association: Review of Surveys, Fall/Winter 2010-11<br />
    15. 15. Views about Budget Evolving<br />Almost nine in ten Coloradans believe state budget is at least a “major problem.”<br />Nearly thirty percent perceive the budget to be a crisis – up nine percent from one year ago.<br />A majority believe the budget is a long-term problem that won’t end as economy improves – one year ago, most attributed problem to poor legislative decisions.<br />Voters are just as likely to have unfavorable as favorable views of TABOR (30% - 30%).<br />Colorado Nonprofit Association: Review of Surveys, Fall/Winter 2010-11<br />
    16. 16. Coloradans Value Public Services<br />Coloradans voted overwhelmingly to defeat 60, 61 and 101 in Nov. 2010 (all tax cut measures).<br />Amendment 60: No 75% Yes 25%<br />Amendment 61: No 73% Yes 27%<br />Proposition 101: No 68% Yes 33%<br />60, 61 and 101 defeated in every county.<br />No vote > 60% on all measures in 56 counties<br />No vote on 60 & 61 > 70% in 53 counties<br />
    17. 17. Colorado Voters must Decide<br />“[T]he ball is back in the voters’ court. It now is up to the people of Colorado to decide what kind of place they want their state to be.”<br /><ul><li>Durango Herald, February 16, 2011</li></ul>11<br />
    18. 18. Colorado’s Fiscal Challenge<br />
    19. 19. Imagine this Hypothetical Situation<br />Imagine your child’s or grandchild’s elementary school grows from 250 to 300 students.<br />Imagine that there is no increase in the budget. The school has to serve 20% more students with the same amount of money.<br />Would that be sustainable?<br />That’s what’s happening in the state of Colorado.<br />
    20. 20. The State Has Grown<br />Since 2001:<br />700,000 more Coloradans<br />70,000 more students in K-12<br />35,000 more college students<br />150,000 more Medicaid recipients<br />2,500 more prisoners<br />Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute<br />
    21. 21. Revenues Only Slightly Higher<br />Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute<br />Chart prepared by Colorado Legislative Services staff<br />
    22. 22. Growth v Revenues<br />Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute<br />
    23. 23. Spending Is Down<br />Mark Hillman, former Republican state treasurer and senate minority leader<br />
    24. 24. Revenues Are Losing Value<br />Colorado Department of Transportation<br />
    25. 25. Political Consensus:Long-term, Structural Problem<br />The state’s budget problems arise not just from recent difficult economic times, but originate from structural spending problems that allow recurring crises.<br />Colorado must implement policy changes that address the structural nature of the problem.<br />Independence Institute, Citizens’ Budget<br />
    26. 26. What is a structural problem?<br />A problem that won’t go away even if the economy fully recovers.<br />The state can’t spend more than it has. Colorado constitution requires state to balance budget each year. <br />The costs of mandated and/or politically popular services and infrastructure exceed revenues.<br />
    27. 27. Family Example<br />Bills for housing, transportation, food, clothing, education and entertainment exceed annual income.<br />Options:<br />Get another job/work more hours<br />Borrow – put it on the credit card<br />Reduce expenses<br />
    28. 28. State Example<br />Coloradan’s expectations for education, public safety, transportation, health care and human services and other public services exceed revenues.<br />Colorado must balance its budget each year. No credit cards.<br />Legislative options:<br />Reduce expenses (except for mandates)<br />Raise fees and close tax “loopholes” (controversial)<br />Use one time money and accounting “tricks” to get through another year (e.g. Federal stimulus; move payday)<br />Voter options:<br />Eliminate mandates (e.g. Amendment 23)<br />Raise taxes<br />
    29. 29. What happens when…<br /><ul><li>The costs for public services exceed revenues?
    30. 30. There are no prospects of new revenues?</li></li></ul><li>Public services must be cut…<br />Governor Hickenlooper letter to JBC and Office of State Planning and Budgeting<br />24<br />
    31. 31. Public services must be cut…<br />Gov. Hickenlooper letter to JBC<br />25<br />
    32. 32. Public safety services must be cut...<br />Fort Lyons prison slated for closure (saves $3 million)<br />Eliminates 240 jobs in Bent County<br />Eliminate prison educational programs (saves $3 million)<br />Reduce mental health services for parolees (saves $2.6 million)<br />Reduce corrections administrative costs (saves $1.3 million)<br />Denver Post summary of Gov. Hickenlooper budget, February 16, 2011 <br />26<br />
    33. 33. Recreation services must be cut...<br />Close Bonny Lake State Park (Burlington)<br />Close Switzer Lake State Park (Delta)<br />Close Harvey Gap State Park (Rifle)<br />Close Paonia State Park<br />Denver Post summary of Gov. Hickenlooper budget, February 16, 2011 <br />27<br />
    34. 34. Health and human services must be cut...<br />Reduce spending on youth corrections<br />Close youth mental health unit at Fort Logan<br />Reduce Medicaid payments to doctors and nurses<br />Denver Post summary of Gov. Hickenlooper budget, February 16, 2011 <br />28<br />
    35. 35. Public employee pay must be cut...<br />Cut state employee take home pay by 4.5%<br />Third consecutive year no salary increases<br />Second consecutive year reduced take home pay<br />Reduce mileage reimbursement from 90% of IRS rules to 75%<br />Denver Post summary of Gov. Hickenlooper budget, February 16, 2011 <br />29<br />
    36. 36. Impact on St. Vrain<br />Estimate<br />Source: St. Vrain Valley School District<br />
    37. 37. Impact on St. Vrain<br />Historic Amendment 23 Estimate<br />Ritter Budget<br />Hickenlooper Budget<br />Source: St. Vrain Valley School District<br />
    38. 38. Impact on St. VrainA $26 Million Difference<br />Estimate<br />Source: St. Vrain Valley School District<br />
    39. 39. St. Vrain Impact<br />Source: St. Vrain Valley School District<br />
    40. 40. Remember this Hypothetical Situation<br />Imagine your child’s or grandchild’s elementary school grows from 250 to 300 students.<br />Imagine that there is no increase in the budget. The school has to serve 20% more students with the same amount of money.<br />Enrollment in St. Vrain has grown 16% since 2007. Per pupil funding for FY 2012 will be less than in FY 2007. Total program funding for FY 2012 will be $13 million less than FY2010.<br />(If Governor Hickenlooper’s budget is adopted.)<br />Is this sustainable?<br />
    41. 41. Are Future Cuts Acceptable?<br />“The state budget should expect cuts of the same magnitude in 2012, although not necessarily to schools.”<br />- Gov. Hickenlooper’s budget director, Henry Sobanet<br />Durango Herald, February 16, 2011<br />35<br />
    42. 42. Colorado Voters must Decide<br />Is this okay?<br />Should reductions in public services be permanent?<br />Colorado voters can choose to say “Yes” or “No.”<br />
    43. 43. Local v Statewide Tax InitiativesFood for thought…<br />
    44. 44. Our Aspirations and Priorities<br /><ul><li>Be the first choice for St. Vrain families
    45. 45. Manage class size
    46. 46. Increase and improve instruction time for students
    47. 47. Expand course offerings and focus programs
    48. 48. Upgrade technology to ensure it is a learning asset
    49. 49. Support teachers to succeed at the job we’re asking of them
    50. 50. Empower families to take more responsibility
    51. 51. Minimize impact on working families and our community</li></li></ul><li>Staying on Track<br /><ul><li>Generate new revenues
    52. 52. Reduce future expenses
    53. 53. Hold the line on current expenses
    54. 54. Eliminate non-essential expenses
    55. 55. Re-engineer</li></li></ul><li>Common Questions<br />Q: Is the problem waste, fraud and abuse?<br />A: Contingency audits could save $200 million (shortfall in FY 2011-12 is $1.1 billion).<br />Greeley Tribune<br />A: Focusing on trimming the fat fails to address Colorado’s systemic budgetary problems.<br />Independence Institute, Citizens’ Budget<br />
    56. 56. Common Questions<br />Q: Is our money being well spent?<br />A: Coloradans must decide.<br />A: Here is what a family making $71,000 pays in state taxes and how it is used.<br />Colorado Tax Tracks<br />
    57. 57. Q: Is our money being well spent?A: Coloradans must decide.<br />Backseat Budgeter<br />Q: Is our money being well spent?<br />A: Coloradans must decide.<br />Backseat Budgeter<br />
    58. 58. Discussion Questions<br /><ul><li>What do you make of this information?
    59. 59. How does this square with what you’ve heard about state funding of public services?
    60. 60. What questions do you have?</li></li></ul><li>How You Can Help<br />Help people understand Colorado’s fiscal challenge<br />Host a conversation<br />Facilitate a conversation<br />Join groups working on this issue<br />Grassroots St. Vrain<br />Great Futures Colorado<br />Learn more<br />BackstreetBudgeter.com by Engaged Public — www.backseatbudgeter.com<br />Bell Policy Center — www.bellpolicy.org<br />Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute — www.cclponline.org/fiscal_policy<br />Colorado Tax Tracks —www.colorado.gov/taxtracks<br />Independence Institute’s Citizens’ Budget — http://tax.i2i.org/citizens-budget<br />
    61. 61. Learn More<br />Colorado Nonprofit Association<br />Renny Fagan: rfagan@coloradononprofits.org<br />Mark Turner: mturner@coloradononprofits.org<br />303.832.5710<br />www.coloradononprofits.org<br />Fiscal Education Network<br />John Creighton: john@creighton.com; 303.682.0907<br />www.slideshare.net/JohnCr8on<br />
    62. 62. Future of Grassroots St. Vrain<br />District/<br />Community<br />Schools<br />State<br />GSV <br />Coordinators/<br />Communications<br />
    63. 63. Grassroots St. Vrain Committees<br />

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