De Beque school vote too close to call

The fate of a mill levy increase designed to guard De Beque School District 49-JT from further cuts budget was too close to call Tuesday night.

Initial counts at 7 p.m. showed a 50 percent opposition to the measure, with nearly 46 percent of early and mail-in voters supporting the question. By 10 p.m., opposition crept below 50 percent to 48.9 percent and support grew to 47 percent. The remaining 4.1 percent of voters left the question’s “yes” or “no” bubbles blank. The measure needs 50 percent support to pass.

New Mesa County Treasurer and former Clerk and Recorder Janice Rich said it was not clear if all ballots from De Beque school district voters had been counted as of 11 p.m. Tuesday because people living within the school district could vote at any voting center in the county.

The county will not have final results from every vote center until today, she said.

If passed, the mill levy measure would raise $485,277 a year for school district operations beginning this school year.

The increase would amount to $16.64 a year in extra property tax for a $100,000 home.

The district decided to propose a mill levy increase after it had to make nearly $240,000 in budget cuts for the 2010–11 school year as a result of state funds recisions and declining enrollment. The district could lose another $240,000 next year, according to state revenue forecasts.

That loss could result in the district turning the local school into a pre-school through sixth-grade school and sending seventh- through 12th-grade students to another district, going to a four-day school week, combining elementary classes, and/or reducing secondary school staff by offering more classes online, according to a September School District 49-JT newsletter.

Reductions for this school year included eliminating three full-time teaching positions, a classified position and the principal job for grades above elementary school; creating two furlough days for employees; closing a portable classroom building; and reducing travel, according to the September newsletter.


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