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Committee recommends bond, mill-levy override proposals for School District 27J

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Proposed packages include possible bond, phased mill-levy override between two and 10 mills

By Crystal Nelson

BRIGHTON — School District 27J’s Quality Schools Initiative Committee recommended two bond and mill-levy override packages Feb. 20 that members would like district officials to consider.

Committee members proposed two plans they believe would be the most-affordable options for voters in the district to boost funding in the coming years.

Proposed Package A would ask voters for a $150-million bond and a phased mill levy override that would gradually increase from 2 mills to 10 mills over an as-yet-undetermined time frame. Proposed Package B would ask for a $150-million bond and a mill levy override set at 7.5 mills. 

A $150-million bond measure translates to an additional $65 annually per $100,000 of taxable property and, while a phased mill levy would change over time, a mid-ranged mill levy of 7.5 would mean an additional $70 per $100,000 of taxable property. Although the specifics of Package A have yet to be determined, Package B would ask voters for an additional $155 per $100,000 in taxable property.

Superintendent Chris Fiedler said he was grateful for the committee members’ work and that he was very pleased they arrived at numbers district officials can now evaluate before potentially seeking to place them on the ballot in an upcoming election.

“The task tonight was to come up with a number that we think people would possibly pass, and then now we’re charged with going back and putting together the specifics in terms of what those dollar amounts will buy,” he said. 

District officials will put together what the two packages could look like and bring it back to the committee to approve in March or April. Fiedler said the committee will then make a recommendation to him to present to the board of education in May. 

The district is looking to put measures on the November ballot because it needs more space to accommodate student growth and it needs more funding for students to be successful. 

The district closed open enrollment at Brighton and Prairie View High schools — as well as Prairie View Middle School and Turnberry Elementary School — due to the lack of space. Fiedler said enrollment at Brighton High School was at 1,700 students when it moved to split schedules and, as of Feb. 1, enrollment at BHS was 1,814. 

“The high schools are just full, there’s no other way to say it. We are at capacity at the two high schools and we have to have a place for these kids to go long term,” he said. 

A successful bond measure would mean more funding for capital projects. A $150-million bond measure could support a new high school, middle school and elementary school. It also could provide funding for better technology infrastructure and for critical maintenance that has been deferred due to budget constraints. 

Fiedler said a successful mill levy override would provide for a wish list of items the district currently doesn’t have but needs in order to be successful and competitive with other Colorado districts. A mid-range mill levy override could improve quality teaching, provide more intervention services, add more teachers, put mobile learning devices in the hands of every student, bring back a districtwide gifted and talented coordinator and purchase new learning materials for students. 

School District 27J hasn’t had a successful ballot measure in the past eight years. The last successful mill levy override was in 2000, and its last successful bond measure was passed in 2006. Although the district went out for a bond and mill levy override in 2008 and mill levy overrides in 2010 and 2011, all were voted down at the time.