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Colorado Springs-area school districts holding forums for board candidates, issues

October 4, 2017 Updated: October 4, 2017 at 6:02 pm
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Superintendent Grant Schmidt. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett)

Hanover School District 28, with 280 students this school year, has the most school board candidates of all area districts on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Six people from the small district east of Fountain, which made headlines last year when its board agreed to arm teachers, are running for two open seats. One is an incumbent.

"In the last couple of elections, we've had more and more candidates," said Superintendent Grant Schmidt. "More community members are interested in serving the school district."

That's not the case in other area districts. Nine of the 17 in the region have no contested open seats.

Candidate forums are under way for those that do.

- Hanover D-28 has held two public candidate sessions, with discussion about its proposed mill levy override to address deferred maintenance, implement a technology plan, refresh its transportation fleet, and update instructional materials and textbooks. Officials say the initiative would cost property owners on average $5 a month.

Recordings of the forums are on its YouTube channel, hanoverschooldistrict28.

- Five candidates are running for three seats in Academy School District 20. None is an incumbent. The candidates are Karin Reynolds, Thomas LaValley, William H. Temby, Doug Lundberg and Eric S. Davis. The two members who have terms to fill are President Glenn Strebe and Vice President Tracey Johnson. Col. Troy Harting will remain as U.S. Air Force Academy liaison.

Two forums are scheduled: 6:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 16 at the D-20 administration building, 1110 Chapel Hills Drive, and 6:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 17 at Eagleview Middle School, 1325 Vindicator Drive.

- Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 is holding public forums at 7 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Tuesday, all at Cheyenne Mountain Junior High, 1201 W. Cheyenne Road, to explain why it's returning to the ballot. The reason: to correct a result of an unexpected change in state law by reaffirming a property tax increase voters approved in 2011.

The law change reduced the rate at which homes are assessed for calculating property taxes. The lower rate, combined with D-12's current 53-mill levy, has produced less-than-anticipated property values and a local property tax shortfall for D-12.

If voters approve Issue 3D, the board will set the 2018 tax rate at 55 mills, allowing D-12 to avoid a loss of local funding and cut homeowners' property taxes by $26 a year per $100,000 of home value.

If the issue fails, the property tax reduction will increase by $14 annually, and D-12 projects it will lose $768,000 this year and similar amounts in subsequent years.

- Colorado Springs School District 11 has one two-year and three four-year seats open. Incumbent Mary Coleman is running unopposed for the two-year term. The other candidates are incumbents Jim Mason and Shawn Gullixson and newcomers Morgan Chavez and Julie Ott.

The Citizens Project, the League of Women Voters of the Pikes Peak Region and Artemis Women will hold a candidate and issue forum from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12 at the district administration building, 1110 N. El Paso St.

The district also is seeking a $42 million mill levy override to offset state budget cuts and decrease class sizes, increase staff compensation, repair buildings, improve technology, add safety elements and address other needs.

- Four candidates are competing for three four-year seats on the board of Harrison School District 2. Steven R. Seibert is the only incumbent; other candidates are Linda M. Pugh, Joshua Hitchcock and Jeannie Orozco.

A candidate forum will be held at 2 p.m. Oct. 21 at the district administration building, 1060 Harrison Road.

- Lewis-Palmer School District 38 in Monument has four candidates running for two seats.

A candidate forum will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the administration building, presented by the Committee for Political Achievement, a subcommittee of the Lewis-Palmer District Accountability Advisory Committee.

Chris G. Taylor is challenging incumbent Sherri Hawkins for the District 1 seat, and Tiffiney Upchurch and Thomas De Angelis are vying for the District 3 seat.

- Manitou Springs School District 14 has five candidates seeking two open seats. None is now on the board. They are: Natalie Johnson, Christina Vidovich, Anna H.. Lord, Jonathan T. Dooley and Jack Sharon.

Two candidate forums are planned. The first will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 11 at the district auditorium, 110 Pawnee Ave. The event will be moderated by the Manitou Springs High School Key Club and sponsored by the school district.

Candidates for the school board as well as city council and mayor will participate in a question/answer community forum.

Also, a Manitou Springs candidate and issue forum will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Briarhurst Manor, 404 Manitou Ave.

The Citizens Project, the League of Women Voters of the Pikes Peak Region, Artemis Women and the Pikes Peak Bulletin are sponsoring the event, which will include candidates for mayor, city council and school board, as well as representatives speaking about issues on the ballot in Manitou Springs.

- Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 has three candidates for two board seats.

- Cripple-Creek School District RE-1 has three open seats, one of which is contested. Two candidates are running for the District E seat, incumbent Dennis Jones and newcomer Patricia Waddle.

- Peyton School District 23-JT is holding a community meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 11 at Peyton High to discuss its first-ever mill levy override initiative to upgrade old buildings, increase salaries and offset state funding cuts. Another ballot measure would extend board members' term limits to three.

The override would not increase property taxes but would reduce the mill levy since a 2005 bond issue is sunsetting. The proposal would raise $126,000 to $180,000 annually for the district.

- Widefield School District 3 also is seeking voter approval of a property tax increase to enhance academic programs, increase salaries, reduce class sizes and expand technology.

And a $49.5 million bond debt authorization would build a school for preschoolers through eighth grade and would refurbish the 15 existing schools, adding safety and technology improvements.

The initiatives are estimated to cost property owners $10 to $15 per month, per $100,000 of assessed value.

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