Economy helped kill bonds

District 51 superintendent Dr Tim Mills, standing, is surrounded by supporters after 70% of the vote was released with disappointing results for the bond issue.

School District 51’s decision to ask voters to approve a new bond issue for nearly $200 million for new schools was problematic from the beginning.

First, this has always been a fiscally conservative community that approves tax increases only grudgingly.

Second, it’s only been four years since the district last sought and won voter approval for a major bond issue and tax increase to fund new schools.

Additionally, the very crowded ballot — with multiple measures both at the state level and locally that would raise taxes — made it extraordinarily difficult to persuade voters to support new taxes for schools or anything else.

In late summer and early autumn, the credit crunch at the national level turned into a global economic crisis, and people began to see huge chunks of their retirement savings accounts evaporate with the diving stock market. Then it was all but impossible to muster public support for any tax increase, even one as worthy as the District 51 schools.

Additionally, the district’s poor performance on statewide test scores almost certainly cost it some votes on the bond issue.

But the need for new school buildings, especially new high schools, won’t go away. With Fruita Monument High School and Central High both bursting at the seams and confronting the possibility of more than 1,800 students in the near future, it’s all but guaranteed the district will have to come back to voters with another bond request before long.

Here’s hoping the economic and political climates are more amenable to the school needs when that occurs.


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