Meetings to deal with school district funding
If You Go
What: Town hall meetings with the school district
When and Where:
Jan. 28, 6 p.m. Red Sandstone Elementary School, Vail
Feb. 1, 6 p.m., Eagle Valley High School, Gypsum
Feb. 2, 6 p.m. Eagle Valley Elementary and Eagle Valley Middle School, Eagle
Feb. 9, 6 p.m. Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, Maloit Park, Minturn
Information: You’ll hear about the condition of buildings, provide ideas for possible improvement, and make suggestions about how to pay for it.
For some preliminary details, go to:
EAGLE — The school district has said clearly and repeatedly that it needs more money and will likely ask you for it.
Determining how much and how it would be spent is the goal of four town hall meetings scheduled over the next two weeks.
“As we consider the viability of a possible bond question in November for capital improvements, there are a number of key decisions that we need to make across the community,” said Jason Glass, superintendent of Eagle County Schools.
The four town hall meetings will cover five basic topics:
A demographic study and the impact of projected growth in Eagle County.
• Facility needs, including educational and physical, taking capacity into account.
• Security and how to provide a high level of safety.
• Technology both for infrastructure and educational needs.
• Grade configuration options.
Following the money
The money trail begins with the Great Recession, although no one seems to be able to explain what was so great about it.
In the course of two years, state funding cuts forced the school board to slash $9 million and 90 jobs.
Along with the job cuts, local schools pushed back millions of dollars in maintenance projects, ranging from roofs to restrooms, from buses to boilers. How many millions it could cost to repair everything that needs it is still being determined, Glass said.
What is clear, though, is that the school district will have to turn to the community for direct financial support, since state funding is expected to be flat again this year, Glass said.
That will come in one of two proposals.
A property tax increase.
That, and deciding what the money would be used for, is where your input comes in, Glass said. At some schools you’ll have design choices to work through — what to remodel and what to replace.
In 2010, government funding was cut at all levels and will stay cut because Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights Amendment caps tax revenue increases at population growth plus inflation.
In other words, local schools will face flat state budgets as much of the state’s private sector economy continues to grow, Glass said.
Speaking of growth, Eagle County’s population could grow another 41,000 by 2040, according to Colorado’s State Demographer’s office. The state’s forecast ranks Eagle County as Colorado’s seventh-fastest growing county in percentage, not in population numbers.
Last summer’s state count put Eagle County’s estimated population at 53,303. State demographer Elizabeth Garner said this year is on track to be Eagle County’s fastest growing year since 2006.
When the recession hit, Eagle County’s population dropped by around 12,000 people, as the county hemorrhaged 6,000 jobs, mostly in construction. State data indicates that Eagle County’s 2015 labor force grew 6 percent over the year before. Across a 5 county region — Eagle, Grand, Jackson, Pitkin and Summit counties — the region gained 4,826 jobs, a 7.1 percent increase. Much of that was in construction and agriculture.
Eagle County’s population forecast is based on projected job growth. However, Eagle County’s average income is $42,588, well below the state average of $51,428. Pair that with the high cost and low inventory of housing and people might look elsewhere to settle, said Rachel Lunney, director of the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments Economic Development District.
We’ve been through this before. Eagle County’s population grew by 30,000 people between 1980 and 2000.
We’re also not in this alone. Rocky Mountain PBS reported that 2.3 million people are expected to move to Colorado by 2040, pushing the state population to 7.8 million. About half of those 2.3 million new comers are expected to land in the Denver area.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and email@example.com.
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