Ballot Proposals Regarding School Finance

On the ballot this November are two proposals that deal with school district spending: Amendment 39 and Referendum J. Though closely related they do not depend on one another to pass or fail. Each proposal requires school districts to spend 65% of funds on expenses specifically involving classroom instruction. For example, the 65% can be used on teachers’ and librarians’ salaries, books, computers, art, music, athletics, and field trips, while expenses such as building maintenance, administration, and school boards do not count toward the 65%. (Referendum J allows support personnel such as principals, counselors, and nurses to fall within the 65% while Amendment 39 does not.) Arguments for these initiatives includes increased funds spent on classroom instruction without increasing taxes, and establishing a statewide standard for spending. Arguments against include whether or not Referendum J is necessary, as, according to the Legislative Council, most school districts already spend approximately 65% on expenses covered by the Referendum; and that Amendment 39 does not take into account the administrators and support staff who do not have direct involvement in the classroom but are essential to the school. For the complete analysis of Amendment 39 and Referendum J, as well as the other 2006 ballot proposals, see the Legislative Council’s Blue Book. Additional school finance information can be obtained from our library, including: