School Board Puts Bond on Ballot

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The girls’ bathroom in the annex of Wheat Ridge High School, one of the aging buildings that could be renovated.

Rachel Vigil , Editor-in-Chief

By Rachel Vigil

Jefferson County is facing a monumental decision about school funding on this year’s ballot.

Initiatives 3a and 3b would increase funding for Jeffco schools’ facilities and programs if passed, similar to other ballot initiatives appearing on the Denver ballot this year.

These initiatives were approved for the ballot by a 5-0 vote by the school board at their June 16 board meeting. The main goal of the bond is to pay for new schools, extensive renovations on current schools, and other improvements in the district. This would be paid for with a $568 million bond and a $33 million levy to cover noncapital costs. These increases would be made by increasing the property tax for houses less than $100,000 in value by $4.12 a month and nonresidential properties with values less than $100,000 by $15.03 a month.

According to Jeffco Public Schools, the bond would be used for repairs and the mill/levy would be used to retain good teachers, increase funding for science, technology, engineering, and math programs, pay for mental health security, and cover any funding gaps. Jeffco Public Schools’ website has an informational page that shows what work is planned for every school in the district, both public and private. The information given also includes the current condition and enrollment of the schools.

The need for renovations and additional schools comes just as Colorado’s population is rapidly expanding. The state grew by 101,000 people from 2014 to 2015, a two-percent growth rate. That is higher than the national average and, as a result, forcing some school districts to consider plans for new facilities.

Even though the school board unanimously approved the bond, it may be more challenging to sell it to voters. According to The Denver Post, 80 percent of Jeffco residents do not have students in district schools. Voters have also rejected large bond/levies in Jeffco in both 2004 and 2008. It is unclear whether or not the residents of Jefferson County will approve this most recent measure.