Jefferson County voters defeated Tuesday night a $535 million school bond proposal that would have funneled money into building new schools and improving and repairing aging ones.
Voters also …
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Voters also rejected a $33 million mill levy override that would have generated funding to attract and retain teachers and hire more metnal health staff.
With 95 percent of the vote tallied, the 3B bond measure was defeated 53.5 percent to 46.4 percent. The 3A mill levy override lost 47 percent to 53 percent.
"We're really disappointed," Superintendent Dan McMinimee said.
Bill Bottoms, campaign chair for Yes On 3A and 3B, also expressed dismay at the outcome. "But I'm more concerned about what effect it'll have on the environment of our schools and our ability to attract and retain quality teachers," he said.
The lack of that revenue for the Jefferson County School District will have significant consequences, Bottoms said.
The 3B ballot question also included money to move sixth graders from elementary to middle schools, a shift that educators said would benefit sixth graders academically, socially and emotionally.
Money from the mill levy override also would have helped cover state funding gaps that could affect class sizes and the ability to fund deferred maintenance on buildings.
Opponents of the bond and mill acknowledged the need was great, but said the measures were flawed and fiscally irresponsible. One often-cited criticism of the bond was that the payment structure meant the total repayment cost would have come to nearly $1 billion over 25 years.
McMinimee said Tuesday night there is no definitive answer for how the district will deal with ongoing state budget shortfalls without the 3A and 3B tax revenue, but there will be "tough choices" during ongoing budget discussions.
One thing the district will do, and would have done regardless, McMinimee said, is continue to advocate for the state legislature to develop a more adequate school funding method.
The lack of funding from 3A would be especially harmful in the attraction and retention of high-quality teachers, Bottoms said.
McMinimee agreed, especially in light of surrounding districts like Denver managing to pass their own tax measures.
"But the bottom line is that we have to show up because there's 86,000 students that count on us to bring our best every day," he said, "and that's not going to change."
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