A proposed bond issue for Brighton-based District 27J passed easily Tuesday, just a year after voters narrowly rejected a similar plan.
The $248 million bond issue will pay for construction of four new schools and renovation of five existing buildings.
A $148 million district bond plan was defeated by 90 votes in 2014, a year that saw defeat of tax proposals in all five of the county’s largest school districts. This year’s larger proposal passed with 62 percent of the vote and more than 125,000 voters supporting it.
Chris Wahre, an officer of IAM27J, said, “We’re very excited. I’m a little bit surprised, but I’m happy to see our efforts paid off and that our community’s voice has been heard.” IAM27J is the committee that mounted the campaign to pass the bond issue.
Elsewhere around the state, voters approved a $122 million bond plan in the Roaring Fork district. But a hotly debated $92 million construction proposal in Steamboat Springs was overwhelmingly defeated, along with a companion measure that would have raised taxes to pay for new staff. A handful of other districts proposed small bonds or tax overrides to fund operating expenses.
In tiny Hinsdale County in the San Juan Mountains, voters strongly rejected a $5.9 million bond issue to build a gym – and make other improvements – at the school in Lake City. Hinsdale reportedly is the only one of Colorado’s 178 school districts that doesn’t have a gym.
Voters statewide by a wide margin passed Proposition BB, which would allow the state to actually spend $66 million collected in marijuana taxes. Even though voters approved taxes on recreational marijuana in 2013, this year’s election is required because of one of the many quirks in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights constitutional amendment. Some $40 million a year of the revenue is earmarked for school construction grants.
Proposition BB was the only statewide measure.
None of the state’s other 20 largest school districts sought tax increases this year, but 27J leaders felt they couldn’t wait because of rapid growth.
The district grew from 9,256 students in 2004 to 17,103 in the 2014-15 school year. That 84 percent increase far exceeds the 18.3 percent growth for all metro-area districts over the decade.
Growth has required uncomfortable adjustments, including modified split schedules at the district’s two comprehensive high schools, Brighton and Prairie View. The district also used modular classrooms at most schools.
District leaders warned that without the bond the high schools will need fully split schedules, with the school day stretching from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Lack of new buildings might also force year-around schedules at some elementary schools.
Get more details in this Chalkbeat Colorado article.