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Education questions face voters

Christine Ina Casillas

The president of the county school board will vacate her post this November, leaving her Eagle-district seat to be contested this fall by three candidates.

Board president Barbara Schierkolk is not term-limited, but she has decided not to run for another four-year term.

“We’re sorry to see Barb leave,” said John Brendza, superintendent of the Eagle County School District. “But the people who are running all appear to be qualified and interested in this position.”

The candidates for the Eagle seat – District D – are Mark Beagley, Vern Brock and Mary Ann Stavney.

“We have three candidates signed up from Eagle, which is great because it shows a high interest in the community in that area,” said Pam Holmes Boyd, spokeswoman for the Eagle County School District.

Three school board members are running for re-election unopposed.

“We have a strong board who are committed to the work they’re doing,” Boyd said. “It’s good to see them continue on with the school district.”

The candidates running unopposed are Connie Kincaid-Strahan, District A (Minturn, Red Cliff and West Vail); Andy Arnold, District B (Vail); and Keith Thompson, District C (Edwards).

“We’ve definitely had more interest in other elections than this one,” Boyd said. “We usually have more candidates than this.”

A number of years ago, though, she said, there were no candidates to run for the Red Cliff, Minturn and West Vail seat.

“Nobody stepped forward for that seat,” she said. “We had to advertise the vacancy and appoint someone to take that seat.”

District C and D are four-year terms, and A and B are two-year terms, she said.

Brendza also said that at times, there has been a rush of interest from candidates, but the district also faces lulls.

“It’s a pretty thankless job that requires a lot of hours. The people on the board are lightning rods for criticism,” Boyd said. “But if you ask any board member, they’ll tell you that it’s very rewarding.”

Question 3-A

A ballot question that would increase property taxes also will be before voters this November. However, the tax increase would be lower than a current bond issue that will retire this year. The new tax would last only two years.

The tax increase would be a slight increase on property taxes and would “sunset” after two years, Boyd said.

If approved, the new tax would set school property taxes at $159.59 for every $100,000 in a home’s value. That’s actually a reduction from the previous bond issue, which put school property taxes at $201.13 per every $100,000 of a home’s value.

“It is an increase, but we’re paying off one bond and replacing it with this one,” Brendza said.

The district made its final payment in December on its 1992 bond issue. The new debt will be presented to replace the retired debt.

“We have a bond issue that’s being retired,” Boyd said. “The new debt would replace the old debt.”

Voters will be asked to increase the total taxes collected by $4.3 million annually for the 2004 and 2005 tax years. The extra funds will go toward special buildings and new technology for the school district, Boyd said.

The board had been talking about the possibility of a bond election since October, she said.

“It’s the little projects that need attention but take a long time to get done,” she said.

At a glance

Question 3-A

SHALL EAGLE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT RE-507’S TAXES BE INCREASED $4.3 MILLION ANNUALLY (OR SUCH LESSER AMOUNT AS THE DISTRICT’S BOARD OF EDUCATION MAY ANNUALLY DETERMINE) BY AN ADDITIONAL LEVY OF AD VALOREM PROPERTY TAXES, NOT TO EXCEED 2.0 MILLS, FOR THE 2004 AND 2005 TAX COLLECTION YEARS TO BE DEPOSITED IN THE DISTRICT’S SPECIAL BUILDING AND TECHNOLOGY FUND TO CONSTRUCT AND MAINTAIN STRUCTURES, AND TO PURCHASE AND INSTALL INSTRUMENTAL AND INFORMATIONAL TECHNOLOGY, INCLUDING EXPENDITURES FOR SOFTWARE AND STAFF TRAINING RELATED TO SUCH TECHNOLOGY, WITH SUCH TAXES, AND ANY EARNINGS FROM THE INVESTMENT OF SUCH TAXES, TO CONSTITUTE VOTER-APPROVAL REVENUE AND SPENDING CHANGES, TO BE COLLECTED AND SPENT EACH YEAR WITHOUT LIMITATION BY THE REVENUE AND SPENDING LIMITS OF, AND WITHOUT AFFECTING THE DISTRICT’S ABILITY TO COLLECT AND SPEND OTHER REVENUES OR FUNDS, UNDER ARTICLE X, SECTION 20, OF THE COLORADO CONSTITUTION OR ANY OTHER LAW?

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at ccasillas@vaildaily.com.


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