Mill levy, bond questions to be posed to Re-2 district voters

Alex Zorn

Highland Elementary School in Rifle.
Post Independent archives

The Garfield Re-2 School Board is moving forward with a mill levy override and bond measure on the November ballot, as board members unanimously approved resolutions for both at Tuesday night’s meeting in Rifle.

More than 50 people in attendance gave the board a standing ovation once the decision was reached.

“Unfortunately, that was the easy part,” board President Jay Rickstrew told the crowd. “We still have to ask taxpayers to support us.”

Garfield Re-2 oversees public elementary, middle and high schools in New Castle, Silt and Rifle.

Details of what exactly is being asked for from the mill levy and bond measure were hashed out at the last board meeting.

While several potential projects were discussed by the board, such as a Career Technical Education Center for the district, ultimately Rickstrew and the other board members decided that the bond issue, if successful, would be used for eight additional classrooms at Cactus Valley Elementary in Silt and Highland Elementary in Rifle.

The separate mill levy override should be used to increase teacher salaries, the board decided. The board intends to pose two questions to taxpayers.

One will ask for $4.9 million annually to hire and retain quality teachers and staff.

At the previous board meeting, Rickstrew talked about how important it is for the district to increase its teacher salary schedule in order to compete with other school districts on the Western Slope.

“I believe it is important that we put this question out to taxpayers to get that increase on our salary schedules,” he said at the last meeting.

However, the mill levy will only move forward if the statewide education funding measure, Amendment 73, is not approved, the board also decided. The statewide initiative would bring in more money to public schools statewide, in response to teacher pay and education funding concerns in Colorado that led to teacher walk-outs last spring.

The other ballot question before Re-2 District schools will ask for a $5.7 million bond to add eight additional classrooms, four at Cactus Valley Elementary and four at Highland Elementary.

“A lot of work has gone into this,” board member Anne Guettler said. “I want to thank everybody that participated in this.”

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