Re-2 digests defeat of override
Post Independent Staff
RIFLE ” Graham Riddile couldn’t sleep at all Monday night.
“I was thinking about what would happen if the mill levy override doesn’t pass,” said the 14-year-old Rifle High School freshman.
Riddile was at the Garfield School District’s Re-2 election headquarters at Columbine Restaurant Tuesday night. Because of his active involvement in the override campaign ” writing letters and speaking to citizen’s groups ” he was invited to attend the district’s event.
But as he received word that voters turned down the mill levy override’s $4 million per year property tax hike he was, in a word, incredulous.
“It’s something that we need,” Riddile said of 3B, which would have provided funds for Re-2’s operating expenses and staff salaries. “The state has set standards, and there is big competition for teachers. We can’t afford not to pass it.”
Graham’s parents, Mari and Art Riddile of New Castle, were on hand to support their son ” and the override known as 3B.
“We’re here because he can’t drive,” said Mari Riddile with a smile, acknowledging Graham’s maturity and keen interest in the district’s finances.
Mari said she volunteers at school and sees the dedication of the staff. “Of course, we’re here because we support the district ” and we support education. If the opponents could only see the amount of time (superintendent) Gary Pack and (assistant superintendent) Ava Lanes put into their jobs. If they only knew that teachers budget school supplies for their students out of their personal finances. I wish they understood.”
The mood at the campaign party changed dramatically when Re-2 superintendent Gary Pack announced the early results of the election around 8 p.m. With 75 percent of the vote in, 2,200 voters were against the override and 1,600 were in favor of it.
“I thought the community was behind us,” Pack said later, as he stood outside in the cold night air processing news of 3B’s defeat. “The mill levy isn’t going to go away. In 2001, the public said they wanted to improve education. They voted to build new schools. We can’t pull money out of the air to operate.”
Nancy Jacobsen, who led the anti-3B campaign, was surprised about the defeat of 3B.
“Can you believe that?” she said in a telephone interview. “Our group has been saying that 3B was a poorly conceived plan.
“We want the district to come back to the voters next year with maybe not such a large-scale plan,” Jacobsen said. “Come back next year with a reasonable override with complete honesty.”
Re-2 board member Jan Hubbell promised to do just that.
“We’re going back to the drawing board,” she said. “We are going to listen to the public. We’re not going away. And we’ll do what we have to do not to affect student achievement.”
Re-2 school board president Vicki VanEngelenburg was also outside on the deck of Columbine Restaurant taking in the defeat.
“We’re re-grouping,” she said. “We’re not going to leave one of those kids behind, and you can tell George Bush that,” she said. She was referring to the federal “No Child Left Behind” mandate, which is demanding high achievement from students nationwide while decreasing education spending.
Anne Guettler was the chairperson for the mill levy override committee.
“We don’t want to settle for average,” she said of the reasons she got involved in the campaign.
Julie Knowles, the preschool coordinator for Re-2, was taking the defeat in stride.
“Of course we are disappointed,” she said. “There was great promise in 3B. This good news is our district is filled with passionate, dedicated teachers and administrators and we will continue to work extremely hard to ensure that the promise of our students is fulfilled. That is why we are here.”
Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518
Re-2 Mill Levy Override
Yes, 1,927, 44 percent
No, 2,449, 56 percent
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