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Schools drum up county’s support

Carrie Click

Garfield School District Re-2 administrators, staff and board members showed up in force at Monday’s Garfield County commissioners meeting to make certain it’s understood why two of the county’s three school districts are asking voters on Nov. 2 to increase their property taxes to pay for the districts’ operations. By Carrie ClickPost Independent StaffGarfield School District Re-2 administrators, staff and board members showed up in force at Monday’s Garfield County commissioners meeting to make certain it’s understood why two of the county’s three school districts are asking voters on Nov. 2 to increase their property taxes to pay for the districts’ operations. But county commissioners didn’t seem to need much convincing.”You know, you’re preaching to the choir,” Garfield County Commissioner Larry McCown told Garfield School District Re-2 representatives, which included Re-2 superintendent Gary Pack, assistant superintendent Ava Lanes and Re-2 school board president Vicki Van Engelenburg. Re-2’s director of finance, Christy Hamrick, made a PowerPoint presentation that focused primarily on how oil and gas industry revenues don’t impact school district funding significantly. “I think people think that school districts are getting all this extra money because of the oil and gas industry, but it’s not true,” Van Engelenburg said. Hamrick told commissioners that school districts are not significantly impacted by oil and gas industry revenues and fluctuations because districts do not receive severance taxes. Additionally, mineral lease revenues are capped at $300,000 total for the region’s three school districts: Roaring Fork Re-1, Re-2 and Garfield County No. 16. “We understand it’s a tough situation,” Commissioner John Martin said. Hamrick also explained that between 60-70 percent of per-student costs are paid by the state, but board Van Engelenburg cautioned against giving the state too much control.”At the state level, they take away local control of districts,” she said.Commissioner Trési Houpt said state control is really a question of semantics. “All the funding goes to the state, and then gets reallocated and redistributed between rich and poor districts,” Houpt said. Van Engelenburg said she hopes voters will pass the district’s mill levy override this go-around.”Despite the educational benefits, people have to see what a benefit the new high school is going to be to the area,” she said. The district’s newest high school, Coal Ridge, is under construction in Peach Valley between Silt and New Castle. “Everything from neighborhoods to commercial development to property values will see such a boost. I can’t believe people can’t see that.” Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518cclick@postindependent.com


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