Parachute schools may seek tax overrides |

Parachute schools may seek tax overrides

PARACHUTE, Colorado – Garfield School District 16, like its counterparts in Rifle and Glenwood Springs, is considering a possible mill levy override question or questions to propose to district voters in November.

The District 16 school board has scheduled a public work session for 6:30 p.m. tonight at Grand Valley High School to discuss its options. Several community members have been invited to help form a committee to carry the proposal forward, if the board so chooses.

Like other school districts around the state, District 16, which includes public schools in Parachute and Battlement Mesa, has experienced a decline in state funding in recent years due to state budget cuts.

Over two years, the district has lost about $1.1 million in state per-pupil funding as a result of the cuts. District schools have also experienced a 20 percent decline in student enrollment during that time, according to Rose Belden, director of business services for District 16.

“When you lose students like that, you also lose staff,” she said. “With the override, we would be looking to bring back some of the funding we lost through the state cuts.”

District 16 would be allowed to seek up to $1.2 million per year in additional local property taxes through an override for general fund purposes. The district already collects $996,000 yearly through a previous override approved by voters, Belden said.

In addition, the district is also studying a possible additional $600,000 override to fund full-day kindergarten, as well as a temporary, three-year $2.2 million override for building technology improvements.

Currently, full-day kindergarten is offered on a tuition basis. An override would allow the full-day option to be funded without the extra fee.

The building technology funding would be used to pay for cost-saving upgrades to buildings, including energy efficiency improvements at L.W. St. John Elementary School.

“All of these are recommendations that are still being discussed, and the board has not made a decision whether to go to voters with it,” Belden said.

The board would have to decide soon whether to seek space on the Nov. 1 ballot for the mill levy overrides.

The Garfield Re-2 and Roaring Fork Re-1 school district boards are also planning special meetings next Monday to decide whether to seek voter approval for mill levy overrides in their districts. The Re-1 board is looking at a possible $4.8 million general fund override, while Re-2 has not specified the amount it may seek.

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