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El Paso County Colorado District 49

D 49 bond issue fails

The Falcon School District 49 bond to raise $125 million failed at the polls in November. The funds were slated for capital improvements to address overcrowding throughout the district.Superintendent Brad Schoeppey said the district is disappointed with the results. D 49 still faces crowding issues, and a lack of additional funding presents serious challenges to meet student needs, he said.Growth across the district has slowed from 6 percent per year to 2 percent, but D 49 continues to have more students than seats, Schoeppey said. The district will use modular units to accommodate students at schools over capacity until funding is available, he added.”It’s a very difficult time for people right now,” Schoeppey said. The reason for the failed bond could be the depressed economy, he said. Families don’t want to take on extra expenses. Plus, the entire country witnessed an anti-government, anti-taxation sentiment during the last election.”There was a national wave that said enough to government spending,” said Andy Holloman, D 49 school board member. “Locally, we got thrown in with it.”Despite the anti-tax wave, Holloman said this was a good year to get voter approval for the bond. The absence of official opposition to the bond and the ability to secure ultra-low interest rates were in the district’s favor.”There’s never a time we could have gotten the bonds cheaper,” Holloman said.But Holloman said he is not discouraged. The district has a strong history of rejected bond measures, and this last measure was not defeated in a landslide. “We lost by 1,000 votes,” he said, which gives him hope for future bond measures.”Next time, we need to support a stronger grassroots movement and think through how to deal with and communicate the complexity of the issues,” Holloman said.Kelly Jo Salling-Davies, a parent in the district, said she canvassed her Falcon neighborhood passing out information about the bond. “I think there could have been better communication about how the money was going to be spent,” Salling-Davies said.”The bond would have paid for the buildings, but how were they going to pay for the books and the staff?” she said.”I also think people were really freaked out about 60, 61 and 101. They wanted to maintain the current level of county services but not add to their tax burden.”Holloman said in the wake of the failure, D 49 has some difficult choices ahead. “How much more can we cut?” he said. “We’ve stripped it pretty bare. Everything is on the table.”Regardless, Schoeppey said, “We will continue to work hard to provide the best education for our students.”

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