State school board candidates endorse District 51 bond

The Western Slope’s two candidates for the state Board of Education both endorsed School District 51’s $185 million bond issue Thursday at a candidate forum.

Marcia Neal, the Republican candidate for the 3rd Congressional District seat on the statewide panel, said there is “no question” that School District 51 needs more money to build schools.

The money from the bond issue, which will be on the November ballot, would be set aside for a variety of projects, including the construction of two new high schools, building two new elementary schools and replacing Orchard Mesa Middle School.

Jill Brake, Neal’s Democratic opponent, said the bond issue will help the district’s capacity for students keep pace with Mesa County’s population growth.

“They have to look down the road. … You have to prepare for the future,” Brake said.

She added that “great schools” are the foundation of great communities.

State Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, also expressed his support for the bond issue Thursday: “Our kids deserve better.”

Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, who also attended the forum, reiterated his support for the ballot measure.

On Wednesday, both he and Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, announced their support for the bond issue.

The four candidates spoke before the more than 30 people who attended the candidate forum at Two Rivers Convention Center, hosted by the Colorado Children’s Campaign, Great Education Colorado and the Every Child Matters Education Fund.

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