Group ready to support levy override for SD51
Friends of District 51, the community group that campaigned for District 51 bond issues in 2004 and 2008, is back and ready for another ballot measure.
The District 51 school board has until Sept. 2 to decide whether to move forward with a mill levy override question on the Nov. 1 ballot. If the board decides not to attempt an override this year, Friends of District 51 will have spent half the summer meeting weekly for naught. But group member John Williams, a Grand Junction attorney, hopes that won’t be the case.
“We’re anticipating the school board will approve a mill levy override on the ballot. We just have to be ready,” Williams said.
He said the group is getting a head start because there is a short window between when the override language has to be approved at the beginning of September and when mail-in ballots will be mailed in October.
While the override’s fate, the amount it would seek and exactly what the money would be used to accomplish are debated, Friends of District 51 will continue to discuss how to promote the possible measure. Williams said the group, which consists of a handful of people but is seeking more members, is talking to parent-teacher organizations about the implications of an override, and group members plan to attend back-to-school nights in case parents have questions about the potential override.
Citizen campaign groups are nothing new for government organizations, District 51 spokesman Jeff Kirtland said. Campaign rules ban school district employees from campaigning while working and do not allow district resources to be used to promote any ballot issue.
“There’s a need to inform voters about the facts around any initiative that is on the ballot, which requires a group of volunteers and people to carry that message,” Kirtland said.
Campaign groups have to register with the Secretary of State’s Office in order to collect donations. Friends of District 51 has not yet registered or collected donations but plans to do both if the override is approved, Williams said.