Durango School District 9-R Board of Education unanimously approved seeking voter approval for a bond issuance on the November General Election ballot.
Details of what capital improvements and the dollar amount that will be asked for will be worked out later this summer, before the school district has to submit final wording to the La Plata County Clerk and Recorder’s Office on Sept. 4.
“I’ve told you all months ago I’m in favor of going forward with this. I think it’s desperately needed, and my belief hasn’t changed, and I think our chances of passing it will only go down from here,” said board member Erika Brown.
Board member Andrea Parmenter concurred, saying the economy is likely to only deteriorate in 2021 and asking for voter approval of the bonds this November is probably better than waiting a year.
Last month, 9-R’s Long Range Planning Committee recommended the district seek $85 million in bonds, an amount that would not translate into an increase in property tax bills because older bonds issued in the early 2000s will be paid off beginning in 2022 and continuing through 2024.
The Long-Range Planning Committee had met for more than two years, and suggestions for improvements, upgrades and repairs needed in 9-R’s schools are prominent items that would be funded should voters approve the bonds.
If the school district seeks an $85 million bond issuance and voters reject it, homeowners and business owners would see gradually lowering property tax bills that would culminate in 2024, when the owner of a home worth $500,000 would see a savings of about $130 a year.
The district will now form a campaign committee seeking volunteers to lead the political and marketing effort in the community to garner voter approval of new bonds.
Funding for capital needs at charter schools also will be included in the bond request.
Last month, Animas High School was awarded a $13.7 million BEST grant to build a new school on the Fort Lewis College campus. AHS is pursuing several other paths to finance the remaining $7 million needed to build the new school. Some of that funding would be included in 9-R’s request going to voters in November.
In the past year, the district has examined asking anywhere from $85 million to $120 million in bonds largely to finance $10 million in safety and security upgrades at all schools as well as $23 million to address deferred maintenance needs at schools.
Other requests for financing from the bonds likely will include:
$9 million to build a career technical center that would provide modern classrooms and working areas for career pursuits, such as welding, carpentry, auto mechanics and culinary arts.$2 million for technology upgrades, including new computers and devices for students and installing fiber optics to all schools.$1 million for transportation needs, including replacing seven aging buses.An undetermined amount to address capital needs at Durango’s two other charter schools – Mountain Middle School and Juniper Elementary School.email@example.com