Business groups back school bond

Three local economic development groups Wednesday endorsed a $185 million school bond measure that would fund the construction of new schools in School District 51.

The Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, Grand Junction Economic Partnership and the Associated Builders of Western Colorado endorsed ballot measures 3A and 3B during an event hosted by the pro-bond campaign group, the Friends of District 51, outside the new Chipeta Elementary school.

Representatives of the chamber and economic partnership said one of the primary concerns of businesses looking to relocate to Grand Junction is a well-educated work force, and passing the bond this November supports that desired economic development.

Ann Driggers, president of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, said the organization’s board of directors voted to support the bond last week.

“One of the main reasons is because the education and training of our work force is a critical issue in site selection,” Driggers said. “Businesses that are expanding are looking for strong support in schools.”

Diane Schwenke, president of the chamber of commerce, echoed Driggers by saying availability of a skilled work force is consistently a top priority among local businesses the chamber periodically surveys.

“We’re in some rough waters economically,” Schwenke said, “but this is an investment in our future.”

If ballot measure 3B passes, property taxes will be increased for the life of the $185 million bond, which will fund the construction of two elementary schools and two high schools, replacement of Orchard Mesa Middle School and various maintenance projects at schools around the district.

A separate ballot measure asks voters for a permanent override in property taxes to partially cover the operating costs of the new facilities.


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