In the next couple of Chalk Talk articles, I’ll dig into some details on Jeffco Public Schools two ballot questions, 5A (a $33 million mill levy override) and 5B (a $567 million bond). Because most people have questions about the bond, let’s look at 5B first. A quick disclaimer – as a public employee, I’m not allowed to ask people to vote for or against items on the ballot. However, I do feel it is important that I make sure our community is informed about their choices on the ballot in a fair and balanced way.
Question 5B would allow Jeffco Public Schools to go to the bond market and sell bonds to generate $567 million for construction and other capital improvements (such as furniture or technology). The $567 million would be repaid over a period of 20 years (with interest) through a property tax increase.
That property tax increase comes to about $1.81 per month, per hundred thousand dollars of residential value. For non-residential property, it’s about $7.28 per month, per hundred thousand dollars of value. The bond’s total repayment (over the 20 years) will be less than $997 million based on language in the ballot question.
5B has specific uses written into the ballot question. These include:
• Adding and expanding career/technical education facilities;
• Upgrading safety and security in buildings;
• Ensuring all schools are more safe, efficient, and accessible; and
• Constructing, furnishing, and equipping schools with classrooms of all types in the district.
5B also has some restrictions written into the ballot language. These include:
• Funds cannot be used for senior district administration;
• The spending is overseen by a citizen advisory committee; and
• The funds are subject to an annual external audit.
There are arguments for and against ballot question 5B. I encourage you to visit the Jeffco Public Schools Future Funding website to learn more about those. You can also expect to see 500-word arguments for and against 5B in your blue book voter guide, which voters can expect to receive in the mail in a few days.
The entire scope of Jeffco Public Schools capital improvement plan is built on 5B funds, as well as funds we normally use for routine upkeep and repair for six years. Combining these resources (if 5B is successful) will actually allow us to complete $705 million in projects, instead of $567, at no additional cost to taxpayers.
What will we do with these funds? You can read about your specific school and district articulation area by visiting our online facilities flipbook, which provides detailed information about the scope of projects at each school, as well as expected costs. The flipbook also includes information on charter and option schools, as well as three planned new schools, three “scrape-and-rebuilds” of existing schools, and additions to buildings all over the district. One of these new schools will be a Warren Tech center in the southern part of the district to expand the capacity for career and technical programs offered through Warren Tech.
Ultimately, we look to the voters to have the final say on how we fund schools in Jeffco, including this proposed work on improving our buildings. We’ll catch up next time about ballot question 5A, the mill levy override.