School District 27J Board of Education will consider whether to place two measures on the November ballot.
The first measure would be a $150 million construction bond and the second would be a $7.5 million mill levy override for district …
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The first measure would be a $150 million construction bond and the second would be a $7.5 million mill levy override for district operational needs.
The $150 million bond would cost about $65 per year for every $100,000 of home value, according to Kevin Denke, the district’s public information officer. He said the $7.5 million mill levy override would be about $70 per $100,000 of home value.
“While numbers are preliminary, we estimate that the combined cost of the bond and mill levy would raise property taxes by about $11.25 per month or about $135 per year for every $100,000 in home value,” Denke said. “The average home price in our district is about $217,000.”
Jason McEldowney, who is part of the executive team on the Parents and Community for 27J, said that voter sentiment is that districts have enough money and should spend wiser but this was not the case for 27J.
“It’s very clear this is not a matter of dollars being wasted and (the ballot issues are) a fix for that — it’s a matter of the community coming together and doing what’s right for our kids,” he said.
McEldowney was one of the 40 members of the Quality Schools Initiative (QSI) committee that was tasked with studying the potential ballot issues. He said the committee came to the conclusion that “it was painfully obvious that the need is valid.”
The district is on track to becoming one of the largest districts in the state, he said, “It’s physically impossible to fit the students coming through here in our current facilities.”
The district has 16,734 pre-K to 12th grade students enrolled in its schools, and the population is projected to reach 18,615 by 2019, according to Joy Gerdom, 27J’s planning manager.
Of the current population, 2,055 students are from the Thornton area, and by 2018 that area will bring about 3,118 students to D27J, an increase of 1,063, Gerdom said.
“There are two primary factors that are driving enrollment increases,” she said. “New housing development, which brings enrollment; and, the current larger upper elementary and secondary grade levels generated from housing growth which brought increased elementary enrollment in the mid-2000s.”
The proposed $150 million bond would fund a new high school (the third in the district), two new elementary schools, complete the build-out of Brantner Elementary, expand Overland Trail Middle School and renovate Vikan Middle School. Money would also be available to finish learning space inside the district charter school Eagle Ridge Academy.
The new high school location will be at 136th Avenue and Yosemite Street in Thornton and would alleviate overcrowding at Prairie View and Brighton High Schools.
The $7.5 million mill levy override increase would create a recurring source of revenue that the district could use to increase academic achievement. This includes adding instructional coaches, adding support for students at risk of academic failure, increasing access to mobile learning materials and the attraction and retention of teachers.
McEldowney said this money also would help with overhead funding to open the new schools if the construction bond passes.
“There is a level of funding that will come with the students — state dollars — but there are additional costs involved with opening new schools,” he said.
Parents and Community for 27J kicked off its campaign efforts to get the ballot issues approved May 7 with a community meeting and launched a website, www.iam27j.org/.
Superintendent Chris Fiedler is expected to make necessary changes to the QSI recommendation before making his own recommendation to the 27J Board of Education in August. The board then will vote whether to place those issues on the ballot.
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