Garfield Re-2 board supports mill levy, and bond measure for more classrooms
The Garfield Re-2 School Board made its decision on whether to pursue a bond measure and mill levy for the district on the next ballot at their meeting Tuesday night, and while the mill levy was supported, the bond initiative did not receive much support other than for adding classrooms to elementary schools in the district.
“We started late with the bond and career technical center,” board president Jay Rickstrew said. “We tried to short track this and while I think there is a huge need within our community for vocational education as a whole, before we can go to taxpayers asking for money we need to know a lot more.”
While the board members said they supported a Career Technical Education Center for the district, each admitted that there was not enough information in terms of location or cost to move forward.
“We haven’t done the work to present to taxpayers to say confidently we are doing the right thing,” board member Anne Guettler said.
Over the past several months the district, along with the Re-2 citizen task force have been discussing the possibility of putting a mill levy and bond measure on the November 2018 ballot. While the mill levy will be focused on getting teachers paid more, the bond measure had several potential goals in mind, including adding four new classrooms to both Cactus Valley Elementary and at Highland Elementary School to relieve overcrowding, and the idea of adding a Career Technical Center for the district was also discussed.
The task force, which presented its findings to the board in July, was in support of the bond measure for additional classrooms and a mill levy for improving the district’s salary schedule.
The board agreed.
“The only thing I’m interested in asking taxpayers for on the bond side would be classrooms,” Rickstrew added. “To me [the mill levy] may be the most critical thing we do. I believe it is important that we put this question out to taxpayers to get that increase on our salary schedules. I think it gets us competitive with neighboring school districts and on the Western Slope.”
The board will make a final decision on the ballot question at their next meeting where formal action will be taken, but Rickstrew added that if Amendment 73 passes the district may not have a need for the mill levy.
The state initiative would bring in more money to public schools statewide.
The ballot question will likely say that the mill levy override will be subject to if Amendment 73 passes or not.
Rickstrew said the state initiative could bring as much as $8 million to the district.
After several community members voiced their concerns over how Rifle High School administration shuffling was handled this summer, going so far as to question Superintendent Brent Curtice’s salary, Rickstrew clarified that the mill levy will not have any impact on the superintendent’s salary.
“[Curtice’s] won’t be bumped up with mill levy overide,” Rickstrew added. “I want to make clear that he doesn’t get anything out of a mill levy override.”
“What I’ve heard so staff can get direction and action items for next board meeting…” Rickstrew concluded. “We have support for the mill levy override and bond question that would provide eight additional classrooms.”
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A 1.5 mill levy proposal would raise $4 million annually to help restore former funding levels to run the six-branch Garfield County Libraries system and provide some stability going forward, backers say.