D49 board still considering bond, mill levy measure for Nov. 1 election

August 24, 2011

The Falcon School District 49 school board is still considering whether to put a mill levy or bond measure — or both — on the Nov. 1 ballot, board members said Wednesday at a special board meeting.

The deadline to place a measure on the ballot is Sept. 2, so the board would have to hold a special meeting before then to vote on the matter.

Board member Rusty Moomey and board President Dave Martin were absent Wednesday.

Rumors about a mill levy or bond have circulated for weeks, with some parents asking about the two fiscal tools at recent meetings. Parents have told board members at meetings that the community is still upset over transportation changes, and voters are unlikely to support anything beyond bus funding.

Board members and district officials have said that typically, mill levies are used to cover operational costs and bonds cover building needs.

Last year, voters rejected a $125 million bond measure that would paid for an addition at Falcon High School, a new 900-student middle school and other district needs.

District 49, with about 14,700 students last year, has consistently been one of the fastest-growing districts in the state. Growth has slowed, but overcrowding remains a problem.

“We have an overcrowding problem in probably two-thirds of our buildings,” said Andy Holloman, school board treasurer. “No matter how fast we build schools, it’s not going to be fast enough.”

State funding cuts have also hit operational costs, he said. District 49 bus transportation shifted to a pay-for-service model this year as part of district-wide budget cuts.

While many parents have said they would support a mill levy to restore the previous transportation program, with bus stops and routes from past years, Holloman said a mill levy restricted to transportation isn’t the answer.

“There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to our problems,” he said, adding that staffing needs, teacher pay and other things such as curriculum must also be considered.
Holloman said District 49 has a list of about $300 million in needs. A bond, if pursued, would be less than $100 million.

“The district is fiscally sound,” he said, adding that people may not like the cuts that were made to get to that point.

Contact the writer at 636-0162.

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