The superintendent of Cherry Creek School District says marijuana is not the answer to the school funding problem. In fact, he says the district has yet to receive a penny of the taxes collected on marijuana sales.
Superintendent Harry C. Bull, Jr. emailed a statement to parents on Tuesday.
Bull blamed the state Legislature for cutting funding each year, saying lawmakers have "relied on circuitous reasoning and intricate formulas to withhold crucial money from school districts across the state."
"We’re facing a shortfall of more than $20 million for the 2017-2018 school year. These cuts have the potential to impact every facet of district operations, from recruiting new teachers to maintaining a reasonable class size," Bull stated.
Bull said taxes from the marijuana industry have not provided the funding voters were promised.
"People keep asking me, ‘Where’s the pot money?’ The short answer is that the Cherry Creek School District hasn’t received any," Bull stated.
"Voters were told that taxes on legal marijuana would prove to be a windfall for cash-strapped school districts," Bull wrote. "That’s not what happened."
Bull said special sales and excise taxes from the sale of recreational marijuana in Colorado totaled more than $66 million in the fiscal year 2014-15.
"By state law, the first $40 million of the excise taxes from marijuana sales went toward capital improvements for poor and rural school districts, and the remainder went toward marijuana education, treatment and regulation and enforcement programs across the state," Bull explained.
Bull said most of the large school districts in the Denver metro area didn't see any of that money.
"So far, the only thing that the legalization of marijuana has brought to our schools has been marijuana," Bull stated.
Bull said taxes on alcohol and tobacco haven't fixed the funding deficit and neither have revenues from lotteries or casinos.
"To offer our students the resources they need to learn, we need a much more profound change at the state level, one that comes down to real and lasting change," Bull stated. "That effort is much more complex than any easy fixes offered by legal marijuana."
Bull said residents need to contact elected representatives and urge them to make sure Colorado schools receive the funding they need.