It’s hard to believe it’s almost August—which means it’s time for the Jeffco School Board members to start making decisions about a mill and bond issue for the November ballot.
They are holding two special meetings to gather public input on a mill and bond:
- Thursday, July 28, 5:30 pm
- Tuesday, Aug. 2, 5:30 pm
Thursday’s meeting is your first opportunity to comment on the proposed mill and bond and it will be followed a board discussion about potential ballot language and priorities for a $33 million mill levy override would fund and a $535 million bond package. If you want to sign up to speak on July 28, follow this link.
The Aug. 2 meeting will also allow the community to comment and ask questions, and will be followed by a vote to approve the ballot language. Public comment signup for that meeting will open on Thursday morning.
At issue is this ugly reality: state budget cuts. Jeffco has received $481 million less from Colorado than was supposed to be budgeted during the last five years, and more budget cuts are projected. Despite this, we need to support our students and teachers in safe, well-maintained schools.
Jeffco Schools staff started to look for solutions this spring when they put together a proposed master plan, some of which aims at creating facility efficiencies to free up money for classrooms. Staff then presented the plan at multiple community meetings and gathered feedback late this spring. That community feedback was incorporated into the plan and informed the priorities for the proposed bond package.
At those meetings, two messages were very clear:
- Jeffco values its small neighborhood schools and wants to avoid closures or consolidations
- The community is open to the idea of moving to K-5, 6-8 configurations to free up space in already-crowded elementary schools, but the new reconfiguration needs to be implemented district-wide.
The revised plan, and proposed bond, prioritizes these issues.
We’ll write more in the coming days, but for now, please keep these issues in mind:
- The 2012 bond fixed the most urgent repair needs to keep our students warm, safe and dry, and did so within budget. However, continuing state budget cuts have caused a growing backlog of repairs, including leaky roofs, faulty wiring, and out-dated fire alarms.
- The average Jeffco Schools building is 45 years old. Replacing dated and inefficient HVAC systems, boilers, and plumbing could save the district tens of thousands of dollars on utility bills.
- Jeffco must continue to attract and retain excellent teachers, and continue the district’s commitment to high academic standards and accountability — but when other districts pay as much as 19 percent more, we’re quickly losing our ability to be competitive.
- We must provide students the skills and technology necessary to prepare them for 21st-century jobs.
- We must address the growing mental health needs in our schools with more counselors and in-school mental health programs.
We urge you to please attend the July 28 or August 2 meeting to tell the Jeffco School Board what you will support so they can make an informed decision. They want and need to hear from us.
And as always, you can stream the meeting: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/10429076/events/3542310