Survey shows community members support bond issue for School District 1
Bond issues are not an uncommon thing to see on November ballots; however, this year in Western Garfield County, what is unusual, is that the school districts bond and mill levy proposals will not increase tax rates within the district.
Due to the increase in the districts assessed valuation, as with the other districts in Garfield County, it will be able to receive a bond without raising current tax levels. Because, the oil and gas companies will pay approximately 94 percent of the property taxes received by the school district next year, according to School District 16 Superintendent Steven McKee’s Sept. 12 letter to community members.
Garfield County School District 16 is asking the voters to approve a $35 million bond for construction costs that include repairs and improvements to Bea Underwood Elementary, reconstruction of L.W. St. John Middle School into an elementary facility, and construction of a new middle school building to replace St. Johns. Also included is a new transportation facility, near Grand Valley High School, that will house a welding station for vocational programs and improvements to the Early Childhood Learning Center.
The district is only asking for a bond, not to be confused with a mill levy override. The bond is what will pay for construction costs, whereas mill levy’s pay for teacher salaries and operating costs. Voters approved a $996,000 mill levy override for the district in 2004.
These improvement projects are due to overcrowding issues seen throughout Garfield County over the last few years, according to McKee’s letter.
“We’re seeing a student growth of around 8 percent over last year,” said Rose Belden, School District 16 Director of Business Services. “We want to be prepared for the future, so it’s very important that we have the facilities to accommodate the needs.”
Before the ballot issues were accepted by the school board, they sent out a community opinion survey to voters in order to get feedback on the proposed bond.
“We wanted the public to have a say and be able to see what they were willing to do,” Belden said. “The results of the survey are what assured the board that they could proceed with the bond.”
Every house in the district, that had at least one active registered voter on the counties voting list, received a survey. Voters were asked to rank the proposed improvements in order of importance to determine which projects the community gave priority.
“It was really important for us to hear what the patrons had to say,” Belden said. “And the survey showed favorable results.”
All of the projects received at least 55 percent support from respondents. About 68 percent of whom showed support for the bond issue, with approximately 80 percent of respondents indicating that “they did not have children or grandchildren under the age of 19 in the school district,” according to the letter.
Based on the results of the public survey, the facility master planning committee recommended to the board of education that the bond be placed on the November ballot and it was unanimously approved.
Contact John Gardner: 945-8515, ext. 535
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