DougCo schools wait for report to set funding request for voters

Mike McKibbin

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The Douglas County School District will likely seek a mill levy override and/or bond issue in November, pending final recommendations.Douglas County School District

By Mike McKibbin/NewsBreak Denver

[DOUGLAS COUNTY, CO] A mill levy override and bond issue in the Douglas County School District could be one of three amounts, according to Sandra Brownrigg, chairperson of the district's mill bond exploratory ad hoc committee.

On March 22, Brownrigg presented the school board with an update on the group's progress toward making recommendations about possible ballot measures on the November general election ballot.

Brownrigg said the committee looked at three different funding amounts to recommend but did not mention any numbers.

The board — which has voiced support for both measures — created the committee in February to explore ongoing operational and capital needs and the feasibility of a successful override and/or bond issue.

2018 issues remain

Brownrigg said the committee gathered information from district administrators and committees and is looking at 2018 election data when voters approved a $40 million mill levy override and a $250 million bond measure. It was the first time voters approved such issues in Douglas County in 12 years.

Brownrigg noted many concerns and issues from 2018 still exist in the district.

"Back then, we were concerned with teacher salaries and retention and leadership stability," she said. "And the voiced support we found in polls wasn't quite the level of voting support."

Brownrigg said 2018 polling found 60% supported that year's mill levy and bond issue, while between 52-54% voted for the measures.

"I think it comes down to a trust issue," she added. "If we grow the trust, we pass the funding."

Brownrigg said the board could help build trust by attending an April forum in Sterling Ranch and reaching out to community advocacy groups.

"We want to know what resonates and what doesn't resonate with people," she stated.

The committee will continue to study financial information and other data in May before making its final recommendations in June.

That is two months longer than the board initially gave the committee. But Brownrigg said the district has until July 19 to finalize any ballot language.

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Failure of a possible mill levy override and/or bond issue is an issue under study by a Douglas County School District committee.Douglas County School District

Community input sought

Christa Gilstrap, the committee's communications co-chair, told the board the committee intends to hold more meetings in addition to the Sterling Ranch community forum. The committee also will give surveys to parent-teacher organizations and the district's student advisory council.

"We're looking at four key demographics outside the school community," Gilstrap said.

Those are residents with dual incomes and no children; retirees and empty nesters; business leaders; and families with children who haven't started school.

"We also need to be clear about what happens if these measures fail," Brownrigg said. "We don't want to get into fear-mongering, but we want to give everyone the full information so it has to be addressed."

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Mike McKibbin is an independent journalist on Colorado's Front Range and covers Douglas County for NewsBreak.

Denver, CO
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