Emily Anderson
Grand Junction, CO, Colorado

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September 11, 2008
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Penry, King endorse School District 51 bond issue

GRAND JUNCTION " In the state Legislature, Grand Junction Republicans Sen. Josh Penry and Rep. Steve King aren't usually fans of new taxes.

They are in favor of one new tax increase, because it will provide space for local children to learn.

Both men spoke in favor of School District 51's $185 million bond issue Wednesday at a press conference for Friends of District 51, the citizen group championing the bond issue from now through Nov. 4.

The ballot question, which asks voters to increase property taxes in order to pay for new schools, repairs and land, was recently certified. Once a ballot question is certified, school district employees can no longer promote the ballot issue while working or with the use of school district materials.

The bond issue is called for, considering schools were overcrowded by 967 kids last year, Penry said. The district added 591 kids to their rosters on the first day of school this year.

"It's a pretty simple analysis " our community is one of the fastest-growing communities in the state," Penry said. "We have to have somewhere to put kids."

"As fiscal conservatives, we look for value for the dollar," King said. "This is our opportunity to put our money where our mouth is."

King added he saw 2004's $109 million District 51 bond issue as paying for "deferred maintenance."

"This is for the future," he said, referring to the 2008 bond issue.

Friends of District 51 Co-Chairman Duke Wortmann said he expects the projects paid for by this year's bond issue, including two new high schools, a middle school replacement and two new elementary schools, to last at least the next 10-12 years.

School Board member Ron Rowley said he supports the bond issue, but he's not sure Wortmann's timeline works for every school need.

"My own opinion is we will have to do something about elementary schools (overcrowding) in the next eight years," Rowley said.

Reach Emily Anderson at eanderson@gjfreepress.com.

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The Post Independent Updated Sep 11, 2008 12:05AM Published Sep 11, 2008 12:05AM Copyright 2008 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.