Homework required before next school bond

While bond measure 4A failed, the needs of the schools – and Grand Junction High School in particular – still exist. We will undoubtedly be faced with the need to again ask Mesa County voters for support.

GJHS’s physical condition is not sustainable and something must be done. The $5 million that will now be spent on short-term fixes will not produce lasting results. It’s like giving a band-aid to a patient in intensive care. School security at GJHS, Fruita Monument High School, Central High School and Palisade High School also remains a concern.

In the lead-up to the election, many people acknowledged these inescapable conclusions, but expressed skepticism over the district’s track record, projected construction costs and even the prospect of issuing a bond at a premium. Given the fact that replacing GJHS is inevitable, I have a homework assignment for both bond measure skeptics and the school board and district leadership.

To the leadership, I challenge you to find a way to provide detailed answers to skeptics and to demonstrate over the next year that you have learned from prior board and administrative failings in tracking and managing the use of funds. I believe Dr. Sirko has righted the ship, but clearly more needs to be done to build community support and trust. Take this extra time to refine cost estimates and provide more detail.

Finally, to community members who continue to recycle past arguments against school bond measures, take the time to review information on the use of funds and capital projects covered by the 2017 bond measure. The detail is on the district website and fully transparent (see https://www.d51schools.org/resources/bond_and_mill/3_a___3_b_financial_transparency_pages). Increase your financial literacy to understand what a bond premium is (and what it is not). For example, a premium does not increase the amount that the district would be required to repay. Challenge your prior, long-held assumptions by attending school board and community information meetings. Gather and evaluate available, reliable data.

Education is one area that has traditionally been viewed as a community benefit AND responsibility. As responsible citizens, we owe it to each other and to future generations to take this homework assignment seriously.

In the meantime, I will join my fellow GJHS teachers in continuing to do our best for our students regardless of building conditions and safety issues. GJ Strong!


GJHS Social Studies teacher and D51 parent

Grand Junction

Election judge ‘insulted’ at suggestion results were late

As a start, to clarify if Mesa County’s population is more than double the next neighboring county, Garfield:

More voters means greater processing time. From Garfield’s Post-Independent it was written that unofficial results came in at 9:07 p.m. on Tuesday. I’m unclear on what times are being compared in the Wednesday Sentinel editorial. It seems results at 7:58 p.m. for Mesa County are miraculous considering the effort needed to process ballots.

Also to state the obvious, polls closed at 7 p.m., meaning more than 1,000 ballots this election needed to travel from their point of origin to the ballot office by around 7:10 p.m. and then be counted as diligently as the very first ballots.

In any case, making election results a race seems counter-intuitive to making them accurate and fair.

Additionally, I’m a bit insulted as a temporary election judge, being considered part of lackluster performance or part of a snag-infested process. Many of us worked a very long day on Tuesday, some 11 hours or more, to process all ballots as quickly as possible. All day, but from 6 p.m. on particularly, the offices were literally buzzing. I felt no snags.

I feel the need to defend the Mesa County Clerk’s office, the permanent employees, and the staff of temporary elections judges tasked with receiving, verifying, and counting each ballot. Kudos to you all. This is only the second election I have worked in the office, however, I was working with other judges — an even mix of Republicans and Democrats as required — who have many, many years of knowledge to add.

It is a beautiful experience in democracy to work across a desk or side by side at a computer with a member of a different party and have nothing but confidence in their integrity, fairness, and goodwill striving towards the singular goal of doing the “people’s business” of keeping the machinery of an election accurate. Again, kudos to us, kudos to Mesa County and Colorado’s voting process.



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