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Four of five Colorado Springs-area school districts get voters' OK for more funding

November 7, 2017 Updated: November 7, 2017 at 9:41 pm
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School financing measures in four of five local districts gained voter approval Tuesday.

"It shows in general that people in this region are realizing there's a need," said Kevin Vick, president of the Colorado Springs Education Association, the teachers' union for Colorado Springs School District 11, which passed its first property tax increase in 17 years.

Voters in Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 supported Issue 3D, with 75 percent of voters approving the initiative in unofficial results.

That will allow D-12 to keep property tax revenues that voters initially agreed to in 2011.

The measure was needed to address a change in state law that reduced the rate at which homes are assessed for calculating property taxes, which would have caused a loss of expected local revenue and a budget shortfall of $768,000 annually.

Voters in Peyton School District 23-JT, east of Colorado Springs, approved the first-ever property tax increase to benefit schools there. Unofficial results showed 52 percent of voters giving approval. The current tax rate of 30.469 mills imposed for debt on bonds will not sunset but will continue and generate $183,000 annually through 2023.

About 75 percent of the money will be used to increase staff salaries, and 25 percent will be spent on capital projects.

"I'm extremely happy voters see the need," said Superintendent Tim Kistler.

The staff will receive annual bonuses, which Kistler said will help recruit and retain teachers.

Renovations will include a new roof at the Career Technical Education Facility, new asphalt at three schools, and replacement of door and window frames at Peyton Elementary.

Another ballot proposal to extend board members' terms from two to three was headed for defeat in unofficial results, with 61 percent of voters rejecting it.

For the second consecutive year, voters in Hanover School District 28, a small rural district of 274 students rejected a proposed property tax increase.

Hanover sought an 8.348 mill levy override to generate $285,000 in taxes to upgrade instructional materials and technology, repair schools, add professional development and refresh transportation fleets.

Hanover has lost $3 million since 2008 due to state budget cuts.

Superintendent Grant Schmidt said the district will continue to lose about $360,000 a year going forward.

"The outlook at the state level is not good for this being restored," he said. "Our reality is that our local schools will likely never recover to pre-recession levels if they rely solely on state funding."

In 2016, voters defeated the proposed tax increase with 38 percent in favor and 62 percent against.

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