Voters to decide 2 local school tax proposals
EAGLE — After saying for almost a year that they would, the Eagle County school board voted unanimously to put two tax increase proposals on the November ballot.
Mark the date, Aug. 24, 2016, the day a school board received a standing ovation from the crowd that packed the boardroom. As they voted, board members stood at the front of the room.
The election was less than 80 days away from the date the board voted Wednesday to put the proposals on the ballot.
Voters will decide in November if they’ll raise their taxes to:
1. Allow the school district to borrow $144 million to rebuild and renovate building and other facilities.
2. Provide an additional $8 million in operating revenue annually. None of that money will be spent on the district’s central administration.
Approving both would increase residential property taxes by $40 per year for every $100,000 of a property’s assessed value.
“I don’t like the idea of paying more taxes. No one does, especially when we send our money to Washington or the state. This money stays right here in our community,” said Shelly Jarnot, school board member.
Filling funding holes
If voters approve both, it would fill holes left in the budget by cuts in state funding. Help will not come from the state legislature or the Department of Education, said Matt Scherr, Minturn mayor and public school advocate.
“We cannot count on the state to fix its fiscal crisis,” Scherr said.
The school district started down this road last October when district officials took their show on the road for a long series of public meetings, gathering ideas and input.
“I believe our community recognizes the need to act locally and now,” said Felicia Battle, school board member.
Katie Jarnot, Eagle County Middle School principal, said her school has seen artists, surgeons, Olympians, attorneys, the current assistant district attorney and a former Air Force One pilot in its halls.
“I worry that the school district will not see the same quality of graduates in the future if we do not address the abysmal funding,” Jarnot said. “We have the opportunity as a community to step up and make it happen.”
What’s in it for me?
All schools get security and safety upgrades, and some will receive long-deferred maintenance. Most would get improved technology.
Assistant Superintendent Phil Qualman said Homestake School needed a new roof 13 years ago when he came to the district.
Eagle Valley Elementary School and Eagle Valley Middle School will be replaced. Red Sandstone Elementary School in Vail will get a major renovation.
Eagle Valley High School Principal Greg Doan made the evening’s glass-half-full statement, pointing out that because of the growth, Eagle Valley has added teachers and programs.
The upside of growth is that it “gives us the opportunity to be part of what education will be in the future,” Doan said.
If the bond passes, Eagle Valley will add vocational programs and expand its new STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art and technology.
Growth is good, Doan said, but yeah, they’re bustin’ out all over.
Eagle Valley High School is home to 900 students this year, up from 700 three years ago, and will pass 1,000 students next year.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.