Study: $160M
 benefit from 
school funding

Bond measure, mill levy override would grow economy, employment

A successful School District 51 bond measure and mill levy override would generate a $160 million economic impact and support nearly 500 jobs, according to a study released by the Grand Junction Economic Partnership on Tuesday.

The study, prepared by GJEP Executive Director Kristi Pollard and the Economic Development Council of Colorado, shows how Mesa County would benefit if voters approve a pair of increased-spending measures in November.

The proposed $118.5 million bond measure would pay for school repairs, a new Orchard Mesa Middle School, classroom technology and two new school gyms.

The $6.5 million mill levy override, which includes a 10-year sunset, would pay for ongoing costs such as five additional school days, curriculum, ongoing school repairs and technology support.

Pollard said the study shows that the bond would pay for itself in economic development over the two-year construction period.

“We see this as a direct investment in our future,” Pollard told a small group of local business owners and leaders on Tuesday. “Without a strong K-12 system, we might as well stop all economic development because it is the root of our workforce.”

The economic impact includes direct impact, such as jobs created or sustained and wages earned through construction, as well as indirect and induced impact — money that changes hands between businesses and employees who put their income back into the local economy through house payments, groceries and entertainment.

According to the study, the bond would generate a direct impact of 287 full-time jobs and $100.8 million economic output over two years. Including induced and indirect impact, there would be 488 jobs supported and $155.3 million in economic activity.

The mill levy would generate an additional $5.5 million in economic activity from training and operations expense.  The $1 million included in the mill levy for ongoing repairs would create a direct impact of supporting seven full-time jobs, and an indirect and induced impact of six full-time jobs. Ongoing repairs would have a total annual economic impact of $1.7 million.

Kelly Flenniken, chairwoman of Citizens for District 51, the political issue committee associated with the bond and mill effort, said there are also many intangible benefits to increasing funding to schools.

“Schools are the place where innovation begins, and a young student can begin to feel a sense of pride and feel like their community is investing in them,” Flenniken said.

Increasing community pride, becoming a more attractive destination for new businesses and raising student achievement are other potential benefits from a successful bond and mill, Flenniken said.

“This benefits each and every corner of the community, whether you have kids in school or not,” she said.

Stephanie Motter, chief executive officer of Monument Health Plans, said she was surprised to hear how much the bond and mill could benefit the economy in Mesa County.

“The thing that made me pause is that this is net neutral, that it could pay for itself in a matter of years,” Motter said. “I know it’s right for schools, students and the community but I didn’t have the data to show that it would be and now I feel like I can have those facts to talk to people about the mill and bond.”

Pollard said GJEP obtained a grant from the Economic Development Council of Colorado to pay for the study.

The full report is available at http://www.citizensforsd51.com.


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