Below is additional information regarding Littleton Public Schools current mill and bond levies and financing. For additional information or more details, please go to https://littletonpublicschools.net/budget-matter.

The LPS mill levy overrides do not expire. Previous mill levy overrides are static amounts which include $2.9 million, $5 million, $6.5 million, and $12 million. These amounts are collected on an annual basis. 

For traditional mill levies, of which the previous four overrides are traditional, there is a state statute that limits mill levy override to 25% of “Total Program” (a funding term). The Board looked at this option of a traditional mill levy, but maxing out the 25% would raise about $7million and still require budget cuts.

The new Debt-Free Schools MLO will not expire.

The Colorado Debt-Free Schools Act says that a school district can “impose an additional mill levy for the sole purpose of funding capital construction, new technology, existing technology upgrades, and maintenance needs of the district without borrowing money.”

If passed, the district would raise roughly $12 million to contribute to expenditures that fall under those categories. This would, in turn, free up $12 million from LPS’s general fund that is currently spent on projects in those categories. The district could then use that $12 million of freed-up general fund dollars to continue to attract and retain quality teachers, maintain counselors and mental health support, and expand programming such as career tech.

Think of this analogy. What if you had a designated fund/account from which to pay your mortgage? Use of that account would then free up funds for groceries, child care, health insurance, etc. 

It’s important to remember that the $298 million bond generously passed by LPS voters in 2018 cannot help the general fund. By Colorado statute, bond funds can only be spent on capital expenses, such as facility repairs, upgrades, construction, grounds maintenance, Americans With Disabilities Act modifications, electrical, plumbing, etc.

While both bonds and mill levy overrides are funded through local property taxes, there are key differences between them. Allowable investments for bonds include acquiring, constructing, and improving capital assets of the district. Types of investments for bonds include new schools, building renovations, purchasing land, equipping/furnishing buildings, and technology. The types of allowable investments for mill levy overrides includes operating expenses such as program funding, curriculum, teacher pay, and technology.

When Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, there was a lot of talk of that money helping schools. But it is a misperception that most of the marijuana tax revenue goes to K-12 education. The majority of funds go to the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund for healthcare, health education, substance abuse and treatment programs and law enforcement. Through a CDE Health Professional Grant, LPS gets enough money to fund two positions – grant funds are limited to three years.

From the 15% excise tax on marijuana purchases, money also goes into the BEST fund. In 2017-18 this fund made available only about $40 million for school construction – and districts are often required to provide matching funds. Additionally, about $30 million will go to rural schools.

The reality is that marijuana tax money is benefitting school districts – and that is a good thing. But it is not nearly enough to fix the fact that Colorado schools are underfunded by about $830 million.

While both bonds and mill levy overrides are funded through local property taxes, there are key differences between them. Allowable investments for bonds include acquiring, constructing, and improving capital assets of the district. Types of investments for bonds include new schools, building renovations, purchasing land, equipping/furnishing buildings, and technology. The types of allowable investments for mill levy overrides includes operating expenses such as program funding, curriculum, teacher pay, and technology.

  • Program Reduction Possibilities
    • Increase class size by changing the staffing formula by 5% or a reduction of 30 FTEs ≈ $2.9M
    • Eliminate the Options program ≈ $2.8M
    • Reduce 1 FTE at each school for specials/electives ≈ $2M 
    • Eliminate district subsidy and increase fees for athletics and activities ≈ $1.6M
    • Eliminate Village preschool programs ≈ $1.4M
    • Eliminate Phoenix, Voyager, and NEXT programs ≈ $1.3M
    • Eliminate Career Tech programs ≈ $550,000
  • Support Services Reduction Possibilities
    • Reduce transportation services by 50% ≈ $3.1M
    • Reduce teacher support and instructional coaches ≈ $2.8M
    • Reduce safety, security, and social and emotional services by 50% ≈ $1M
  • Employee Compensation Reduction Possibilities
    • Reduce 10 instructional days (employee working days) ≈ $6M
    • Further reduce all employee pay by 2% ≈ $2.2M

In December 2019, the Board directed that the following cuts be made for 2020-2021:

  • Reduce central office positions through retirements, the elimination of some positions, and not filling some vacancies at this time;
  • Reduce staffing allocation to secondary schools by 0.5 FTE (full-time equivalent), and reducing staffing allocation to elementary schools by 0.25 (FTE);
  • Reduce pay for all administrators and year-round classified staff;
  • Reduce pay for all certified staff (teachers) through one furlough day (subject to negotiations with the Littleton Education Association);
  • Reduce the amount of funds used for capital projects and risk management; 
  • Increase the fees self-sustaining programs such as School Age Child Care, Driver’s Education, and Nutrition Services pay to the general fund;
  • Reduce the subsidy the district gives to high school athletic and activity funds, which will result in increased fees;
  • Increase fees for preschool;
  • Eliminate selected software subscriptions.

The Board began exploring local solutions last January, and made $4.2 million in cuts for the 2020–2021 school year. Approximately two-thirds of the cuts in positions and salary reductions are coming from the central office. The 17 central office cuts included: the assistant superintendent of business services/chief financial officer, director of learning services, coordinator of gifted and talented services, special education instructional coach, executive administrative assistant, and coordinator of career and technical education. Additional reductions in central office staffing include chief information officer, tech support specialist, math teacher on special assignment, two administrative assistants, data submission specialist, wellness coordinator, terminal manager, and carpenter.

The residential assessment rate is 7.15%, or $42.58 for every $100,000 of actual property value. The tax increase would be around $128 for $300,000; $213 for $500,000; and $298 for $700,000. You can find your home’s assessed value at Residential property information can be found at https://www.arapahoegov.com/187/Property-Search.

The non-residential assessment rate is 29%, or $172.70 for every $100,000 of actual property value. The tax increase would be around $518 for $300,000; $863 for $500,000; and $1,209 for $700,000.

Each charter would receive MLO funds annually on a per pupil basis, approximately $800 per pupil. These funds would need to be used in the same manner as the district (i.e., assist with operational and maintenance costs, technology, and capital projects).

The greatest way to support the 4C campaign is to get out and VOTE! Your vote in support of 4C will ensure that the quality education we have come to expect through LPS will continue. 

If you would like to volunteer, please complete the information at the top of the page or contact us at citizens4lps@gmail.com. There are many ways to volunteer, such as by including writing postcards, displaying a yard sign, and assisting with text banking. Our team welcomes and appreciates your help!

You can also support the 4C campaign financially as well as through your gift of time. To donate monetarily, please click the “donate” button at the top of the page. You may also mail a check payable to Citizens for LPS to Citizens for LPS, PO Box 2032, Littleton, CO 80161.

The assessor determines the actual (market) value for all real and personal property. Then a percentage (assessment rate) is multiplied by the actual value to determine the assessed value. In Colorado the residential assessment rate is currently 7.15%. For all other properties, including commercial, personal property, vacant land and agricultural land, the assessment rate is 29%.

 

The actual value is multiplied by the assessment rate which is then multiplied by the mill levy. Example: $150,000 (actual value) x 7.15% (residential assessment rate) x .081265 (mill levy) = $ 871.56 (annual tax dollars). Please note this is only an example. Your value and mill levy may be different.

Residential property information can be found at https://www.arapahoegov.com/187/Property-Search

The district’s Financial Advisory Committee (FAC) is the district’s financial oversight committee for ALL funds. This committee reviews the district’s quarterly financial statements, proposed and adopted budget reports, and the annual comprehensive annual financial report. In reviewing all of these reports, mill levy override dollars are included. The new operational fund for the debt-free schools funds will be included in all of these reports and will be reviewed by the FAC. 

The Gallagher Amendment forces a mathematical calculation on the value at which properties are assessed for taxes based on the value of nonresidential property. This calculation results in lower local property tax revenue for schools at the same time State funding for K-12 education is being reduced. The impacts of the Gallagher Amendment and TABOR have shifted the responsibility for funding schools from the local taxpayers to the State’s budget. With the current economic situation, nonresidential property values are expected to shrink and this will require a reduction in the taxable value of residential properties. Lower taxable value will result in lower local property tax collection. If the Gallagher Amendment remains in place, local school property tax revenue will decline and the State will be required to backfill this revenue at a time when they are not able to. Thus, repealing Gallagher allows the local school mill levy to generate revenue based on the existing taxable value, not a reduced amount, and deal with State cuts in school funding that are not compounded by the Gallagher Amendment.