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El Paso County Colorado District 49

D 49 BOE approves ballot language

On Aug. 18, the Falcon School District 49 Board of Education approved a resolution outlining the ballot language for the $107.4 million bond question scheduled for the November election.The resolution also included language defining a request to keep the mill levy override. The members approved the language in a 4-1 vote, with director Chuck Irons opposed. According to the official ballot language, the bond includes the following: ï Repairing and renovating district facilities to extend their useful life, increasing safety for students and staff and maximizing energy efficiency in all buildings ï Expanding classroom technology and constructing specialized labs that support science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in order to increase student access to vocational and career preparation ï Acquiring two school buildings currently being leased by the district to serve online, pre-school and special education students ï Constructing, renovating and modernizing facilities at Horizon Middle, Sand Creek High, Falcon High, Falcon Elementary and Vista Ridge High schools to deliver core academic classes and practical vocational training to prepare students for college and future jobs ï Constructing two K-5 neighborhood schools and one middle school, one elementary school on Londonderry Drive and an elementary school and middle school facility in Banning Lewis Ranch to serve the demand in the central and northern portions of the districtThe districtís repayment cost of the bond will be $222.5 million, according to the ballot language.ìThe bond would cost taxpayers $1 each month per $100,000 of assessed value of your house,î said Tammy Harold, BOE president.ìAs more houses get built, more people will be paying; and it will get paid faster.î The district will pay the bond back through the property taxes they pay to the county, she said.ìThe Capital Planning Committee worked a year and a half figuring out what the needs were of the district,î Harold said. ìThey presented their case in January and we knew as a board that a $190 million bond wasnít acceptable, so we asked them to go back and prioritize it.îHarold said the boardís main goal is to use the districtís existing facilities rather than building new ones. ìAt the high schools, weíve added the specialized learning spaces so that programs like the nursing program at Falcon High School can move into that space; and then that would free up the seats they are currently using for traditional instruction spaces,î she said.As for the mill levy override, Harold said, ìWeíre asking not to increase taxes but to continue the mill levy at the rate itís at, pay off existing construction costs from 2005; and, moving forward, use the extra money for salaries for teachers, increasing safety measures and working to put in new technology every year going forward. Once the construction costs from 2005 were paid off, the mill levy override would have gone away or sunset, but we want to continue to pay for those things and keep the override in place.î The existing override authorization is $7.5 million; the new ballot measure would also eliminate the sunset of the override.ìThere will be a citizenís oversight committee to assure the taxpayers that the money is being spent as it was put forward in the ballot,î Harold said. ìThatís an outside volunteer group that will be looking at it.îIrons said he voted against the resolution because it contained language for both the mill levy override question and the bond question. ìI favor the mill levy override but not the bond,î he said. ìI think the bond is a flawed list of projects that I donít support. I think it will stick voters with additional taxes for projects I donít support.îThe cost to the district to get the ballot question on the November election is $118,000.

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