School bond construction money can’t be used elsewhere |

School bond construction money can’t be used elsewhere

Gary Pack

I read a letter to the editor in the Sept. 18 Post Independent that Ms. Nancy Jacobsen proposed using school bond construction money to fund the mill levy override.

According to Colorado school finance regulations, you cannot use money that has voter approval as a school construction bond for any other purposes than what was indicated on the ballot question in 2001.

That specific ballot question asked the voters for $39 million in school construction and renovations projects. Therefore, you cannot spend public monies intended for school construction to pay teacher salaries or provide safe vehicles or school security officers.

There is a distinct difference between a school bond referendum for school construction and a mill levy override, which can only be to provide services, new programs and salary increases.

The Colorado school finance law requires a school bond and a mill levy override to be two different ballot questions and monies cannot be transferred from one ballot question to the other.

Therefore, Ms. Jacobsen’s suggestion that we use the $2.1 million savings from the base bid at Coal Ridge High School to fund the mill levy is against Colorado statute and school finance law.

Her suggestion would also not work with school finance budgeting regulations because building construction is a one-time expenditure, and salaries and programs are reoccurring annual costs.

The school district had placed $13 million in a budget for actual bricks and mortar construction of the new high school. The actual base bid came in at $10.9 million.

The school board was able to add bid alternates to the project to enhance student achievement opportunities and still stay within the established $13 million budget. These additions were needed, but the school board was not sure they could be afforded.

Taxpayers received $2.1 million in additional facilities not scheduled to be built under the bond referendum of 2001. I believe that school finance experts would support the decision of the school board to add facilities now at a reduced cost to taxpayers and still stay within the established construction budget.

Ms. Jacobson also suggested that I enroll in a school finance course and she would be willing to pay for it.

I have taken several of these courses in the past, but I would be willing to enroll in a refresher course because I want to stay current and do a good job. I contacted the University of Colorado at Boulder today and the cost for the three-hour graduate course is $600. That is 10 times more than she would pay in property taxes under the mill levy override question and she could support the great children and quality teachers and staff in the Re-2 school district.

I would hope she would consider that instead of sending me back to school.

– Gary Pack is the superintendent of Garfield School District Re-2, which serves Rifle, Silt and New Castle.

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