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Widefield schools win OK for bond issue, tax increase

November 7, 2017 Updated: November 8, 2017 at 8:16 am
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Firefighter Roger Lance casts his early vote at a mobile drop box in the Wescott Fire Protection District Headquarters on Monday, November 6, 2017. Lance was the first voter to drop off his ballot at the mobile station, a new initiative this year .

Widefield voters Tuesday passed a property tax increase and bond measure that will give District 3 students new schools and upgrade technology in classrooms.

"Our kids are going to benefit," said Marc Deutsch, the chairman of the Widefield Information Network, a community group that supports School District 3. "I think our community has been in definite need."

Measure 3A passed with more than 57 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results. It will raise $3.5 million in property taxes annually to enhance core subjects, reduce class sizes, increase staff salaries, expand technology and cover the operating costs of a new building for preschool through eighth grade.

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Measure 3B, with more than 56 percent of the vote, authorizes $49.5 million in bonds and raises taxes by up to $3.6 million to build an elementary and middle school, make districtwide improvements to existing schools, upgrade technology in schools, improve safety with surveillance cameras, alleviate the need for portable classrooms and upgrade buses.

Proponents said statewide cuts made a tax increase necessary, despite the school district obtaining grants and using partnerships and its reserves to reduce the burden on taxpayers. The last time district voters approved a tax increase was 16 years ago, and it's been 22 years since bonds were OK'd. Deutsch said the district "waited until the necessity arose."

With nearly all votes counted, the Fountain-Fort Carson school board race was close, with Rose Terrell, Loretta "Lori" Kimball and Michelle Hopkins vying for two four-year terms. In unofficial results, Kimball, the board's vice president, was ahead with 34 percent of the vote, Hopkins, the health promotions officer and Ready and Resilient director for Fort Carson and the 4th Infantry Division, had 33 percent of the vote. Terrell trailed with 32 percent of votes.

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