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Educators backing Amendment 66 in Pueblo

By Joe Dominguez, Multimedia Journalist - Pueblo Chieftain Bureau , j.dominguez@krdo.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 11:55:27 AM CST
Updated On: Oct 24 2013 07:06:28 PM CDT

Pueblo teachers want to see Amendment 66 pass. Joe Dominguez reports.

PUEBLO, Colo. -

Pueblo city and county schools stand to benefit from the passage of Amendment 66 in November according to unionized teachers for school districts 70 and 60.

If approved, the ballot measure would pour millions of dollars of voter approved tax money into Colorado classrooms. Opponents have objected to the tax hike. The ballot question asks voters to approve a rise in income tax rate from 4.63 to 5 percent on the first $75,000 in taxable income to account for the money. The average family would see an extra $133 per year come out of their paycheck.

Union leaders for teachers in Pueblo said both districts rank near the bottom in state funding per pupil.

"For me-- Amendment 66 is an opportunity for us to recoup the millions and millions of dollars we have not seen in both the county and city of Pueblo in many many years," said Roxy Pignanelli, president of the Pueblo County Education Association.

Pignanelli said the money could have a ripple effect throughout the classroom and school district 70.

"I think people don't realize that these monies not only go in the classroom but go around the building - safety, security, success," said Pignanelli.

Ed Smith, Superintendent for school district 70, is also advocating for the passage of Amendment 66. He said the more money the classroom gets the easier it is for cash-strapped districts to pay for things like free and reduced lunches for needy students.

"It will take us back to pre-recession levels of spending funding for school districts," said Smith.

Union teachers in Pueblo City Schools said one of the biggest things that could improve in school district 60 is access to technology.

"Part of the amendment sets aside money for technology and if we want to give our students a 21st Century education we need to have the technology to be able to do it," said Suzanne Ethridge, president of the Pueblo Education
Association.

Ethridge said she's been frustrated by the lack of money coming from the state to help with public education.

"Over the last last 5 years, school district 60 has cut 22 million dollars out of their budget," said Etheridge. "Amendment 66 goes a long way toward making that up."

The board of directors for Pueblo City Schools has also passed a resolution supporting the passage of Amendment 66.

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