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Colorado Referendum J

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Current law in Colorado requires school districts to set aside money from within the total budget for specific purposes, such as buildings and insurance, books and other school supplies, and services for "at-risk" students. These specific budgetary earmarks account on average for approximately $600 per student according to 2004-2005 school year figures — roughly eight percent of district operating budgets. Referendum J proposes a new requirement, that each school district spend a minimum of 65% of its operating budget on a set of budget items specified in the referendum.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Photosynthesis is Fascinating!


Those of you who have watched my Q&A video know that my background is in photosynthesis research, so I want to convince you that Photosynthesis is fascinating! So I’ve come up with some quick nuggets of information that you probably don't know about photosynthesis, so indulge me for just a few minutes and I’ll try and convince you. Photosynthesis is the process that plants and other photosynthetic organisms such as algae and cyanobacteria use to produce sugar from water, carbon dioxide and light. It is responsible for almost all life on Earth, if you follow a food chain back far enough you will almost always find a photosynthetic organism of some form as the primary producer of the system. Even creatures that don’t rely on photosynthesis for food (energy) can be reliant on the byproduct of photosynthesis, oxygen. The first steps of photosynthesis involves the production of this oxygen. Water is split into oxygen and hydrogen by the enzyme Photosystem II. Yes in photosynthesis, two comes before one because that is the order these enzymes were discovered. The splitting of water however is no small task, it is the most thermodynamically challenging reaction in all of biology. To put this into perspective Water can be split with heat, for example at 2200 °C about three percent of all water molecules will disassociate into oxygen and hydrogen. But in leaves, with the help of photosystem II, this can occur at anything above zero. The energetics involved here do present some problems; water splitting results in the production of reactive oxygen species that damage the proteins in the cell. The core protein of Photosystem II, known as D1, has a half-life in a growing plant of just 2 hours meaning the plant must constantly replace its photosynthetic machinery. Oxygen itself was not all good news. When oxygenic photosynthesis first evolved in cyanobacteria it caused massive climate change and the mass extinction of life forms that couldn’t deal with this new aerobic atmosphere. This is known as the Great Oxygenation Event, and there is some debate about the exact timeline, not too surprising since this happened 2.3 billion years ago. But to simplify, the oxygen produced by early cyanobacteria was initially absorbed by minerals such as iron in the earth’s crust. But after this “mass rusting” these sinks were overpowered and oxygen levels in the atmosphere slowly rose from almost zero to todays 21%. Cyanobacteria had polluted the atmosphere with corrosive and reactive oxygen, resulting in a mass extinction of countless species of anaerobic bacteria that were unable to survive in this new oxygen rich atmosphere as well as oxidizing atmospheric methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, plunging the planet into the longest snowball Earth period in the geological timeline and lasting between 300 and 400 million years. But it also opened the door for the evolution to aerobic respiration allowing much more energy to be accessed by life; that in turn allowed for more complex life to evolve. You know, like cat’s for staring in YouTube videos, and humans for making YouTube videos. You probably know that plants are green because of the pigment chlorophyll, this is the pigment that plants use to absorb light; the energy from this light is used in photosynthesis to produce the sugars that the plant needs. You might even know that plants make use two types of this pigment; Imaginatively named chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b. These chlorophylls absorb slightly different wavelengths of light from each other. These are the only two chlorophylls found in plants, but, zoom into the microbial world and there are chlorophylls out there? The most recently discovered is chlorophyll f. This was found in stromatolites from Shark Bay in Western Australia, the function of this chlorophyll f in photosynthesis is unknown, as is its ecological distribution; but has been revealed to be the most red-shifted chlorophyll yet discovered absorbing light in the infrared range. And its chemical structure is very similar to chlorophyll a; this has led to speculation that chlorophyll f could be introduced into crop plants to allow the plants access to a larger range of the light spectrum; potentially increasing the crop yield. However adding chlorophyll to plants isn’t the only idea for increasing crop yields. In fact doing the opposite and taking away chlorophyll can, paradoxically, also increase yields. The plants leaves are very, very good at absorbing the wavelengths of light that can be used for photosynthesis. However only a fraction of the energy absorbed is used; the remaining energy is lost, mostly as heat in a process called non-photochemical quenching. But a little is list as light through chlorophyll fluorescence But with leaves so efficient at absorbing light, often the upper leaves absorb so much light that there is not enough light left for the leaves further down in the canopy to preform photosynthesis at maximum efficiency. In a natural forest there is an advantage to denying a competitive plant these resources, but in a monoculture crop we are less interested in the individual’s performance and more concerned with the performance of the crop in total and the amount of delicious things we can get; so reducing the chlorophyll content in the crops leaves can allow more leaves to be working at peak efficiency, resulting in an overall higher yield. So there you go, some quick nuggets in information that you now know about photosynthesis. Let me know in the comments below if I convinced you that photosynthesis is fascinating!


Budget items

Referendum J would require that 65% of school district operating budgets be spent on the following budgetary items:

  • books and other instructional materials
  • classroom computers
  • field trips, athletics, arts, and music
  • libraries and librarians
  • principals
  • support services provided at the school level
    • college placement services
    • food services
    • student health and medical services
    • student testing
    • teacher training
    • transportation
  • support staff
    • bus drivers
    • food service workers
    • guidance counselors
    • nurses
  • teachers, classroom aides, and tutors

Notably absent from the budgetary earmarks in Referendum J are:

  • superintendents and school boards
  • building construction, maintenance, and repairs
  • central administrative functions
    • accounting
    • budgeting
    • payroll

Corrective action

Schools that fall short of budgetary requirements set forth in Referendum J would be required to increase budgetary earmarks for specified items by two percent per year until minimums are met. Provisions are made for districts to request a waiver for a period of one year. Referendum J allows voters to exempt specific districts from its budgetary requirements, and standardizes budget submission formats to the state to facilitate tracking of Referendum J compliance.

Estimated fiscal impact

The Colorado Department of Education's oversight of Referendum J requirements is expected to increase state costs by approximately $62,000 annually. School district costs may also be increased by requiring more detailed expenditure tracking, budget planning, and budget submission procedures introduced with Referendum J if it passes. Referendum J does not increase funding for public education.

Differences with Amendment 39

Also on the 2006 ballot is Amendment 39, a proposed amendment to the state Constitution, which also proposes changes to school district budgetary requirements. Notably different is the fact that Amendment 39 does not require that any of the earmarked 65% of funding go to principals, support staff, or support services provided at the school level.

The two ballot items also define a district's operating budget differently, which can affect various districts differently. Using the 2004-2005 school year as an example, the budget expenditures on items specified in Referendum J received 83% of district operating budgets on average, already well over the 65% that would be required by the new law, while according to Amendment 39's budget definitions only 60% of the budget was already spent in that year on the budget items specified by Amendment 39.

Aside from the average, however, individual school budget analyses show that at least some schools in the state failed to meet the 65% requirements set forth by each of the ballot proposals. 166 school districts would have fallen short by a total of $278 million according to the requirements of Amendment 39, while three districts would have fallen short for a total of approximately one million dollars under the requirements of Referendum J, if they had both been in effect for the 2004-2005 school year.

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This page was last edited on 20 August 2019, at 21:11
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