Voters approved two Roaring Fork Re-1 School District ballot questions Tuesday, likely approving property tax increases to raise $86 million for school construction and maintenance, and $1.8 million for operational costs.”It’s great for our kids and our communities for generations ahead,” Re-1 school board president Susan Hakanson said at a gathering of school board members, principals, and other district supporters at the Hotel Colorado. Though both questions passed, 3B, the bond question, passed by a slimmer margin than 3A, the mill levy question.In Garfield County, with 53.6 percent of the votes counted, 3B appeared to have passed by a margin of 55.73 percent to 44.27 percent. Eagle County voters passed 3B 66.29 to 33.7 percent.District officials knew from the beginning that 3B would be much more difficult to get voters to approve, said Re-1 superintendent Fred Wall. The bond will raise $86 million that will allow the district to build a new Carbondale high school and create a districtwide support facility there. It will also pay for a two-story, $34.2 million addition to Glenwood Springs High School, and a half-wing addition and completion of the athletic fields at Basalt High School. The bond spurned criticism of the district for spending too much money in general, and spending money on buildings that could be spent on teachers.The Glenwood Springs High School expansion faced especially harsh criticism from business owners near the school. To complete the $34.2 million addition to Glenwood Springs High School, the district will have to buy a six-acre plot of land south and southeast of GSHS’s current location. The district will have to buy five businesses and five rental homes to complete the project, some of which said they couldn’t afford to relocate. The decision to buy the property came after two years of planning and surveys by school district committees, Hakanson said. “They (a school district committee) looked at literally a dozen or so scenarios for that property,” she said. The committee determined that Glenwood Springs residents wanted GSHS to be in town, and for the addition to be cost-effective. Question 3A, the $1.8 million mill levy override, passed much more easily.In Garfield County, with 53.66 percent of the votes counted, 63.22 percent of voters approved 3A; 36.78 percent did not. In Eagle County, 72.5 percent of voters approved 3A, 27.5 did not. The mill levy will pay to operate RE-1’s school. District officials said the extra money will keep class sizes small in lower elementary school grades and provide competitive salaries. Base salaries for a first-year teacher in Re-1 ranges from $30,625 to $33,000. The mill levy will increase teacher salaries from 4-7 percent, depending on where a teacher falls on the pay scale.Combined, the bond and mill levy override will cost a homeowner about $20 per month, based on the average $400,000 home in the valley (or, about $5 per $100,000 of home value).Voters allowed the district a major step by passing both the bond and mill levy. “What we’re looking at right now are buildings that will take us ahead for the next 25 to 50 years,” Hakanson said. However, she cautioned that even with this bond the district may have more needs in years to come. “This is great for our kids,” Wall said. “They need teachers that stay with them and buildings to learn in.”Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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