BRIGHTON — The School District 27J Quality Schools Initiative Committee is confident the district should pursue a $150-million bond measure and $7.5-million mill levy override in November, after learning results from the district’s first poll were favorable.
During its April 24 meeting, the committee decided that Superintendent Chris Fiedler should recommend the package to the Board of Education at its regular board meeting in August.
Cheif Operations Officer Terry Lucero told the committee results of the poll indicated that 57 percent of those polled would support the bond measure. He also said the polling results showed that 54 percent of those polled believed the district is headed in the right direction, 28 percent believed the district is headed in the wrong direction and 19 percent didn’t know.
When compared to polling results in August 2011 — when 49 percent responded they thought the district was headed in the wrong direction — Lucero was excited about the results.
“These are great numbers – better numbers than I’ve seen in a long time. It’s winnable,” Lucero said of the results.
Superintendent Chris Fiedler said he was “pleasantly surprised” with the results and is “hopeful,” largely because polling results in the district’s past haven’t been that great and pointed out that the district hasn’t passed a bond in eight years.
“Honestly, one of the things I’m most excited about is … the district headed in the right direction question,” he said, crediting the shift in public sentiment to the work of district spokesman Kevin Denke. “… Once people know the story and understand it, it kind of tells itself.”
Fiedler said his staff “is going to be busy” between now and the Nov. 4 election, as a lot of work has to be done. He said Lucero, Chief Academic Officer Kelly Corbett and their staff will be working putting together specific and detailed plans on how that money would be spent in the coming months.
District officials are proposing the ballot measure in part so it can start dealing with its growing pains. Enrollment in the district has tripled since 2000, and the district currently serves 16,698 students. That number is projected to grow an additional 502 students in the 2014-15 academic year.
A $150-million bond measure and $7.5-million mill levy override would translate into an additional $135 annually per $100,000 of taxable property in the district.
The bond measure would be used for construction and capital improvements at the district’s existing schools. Approximately $77 million would go toward constructing the district’s third high school at 136th Avenue and Yosemite Street in Thornton. The funding would also allow for a new middle school, the second phase of Brantner Elementary School to be completed, two more elementary schools to be built, additions of modular classrooms at Stuart and Prairie View Middle schools and allow for capital repairs at each school in the district.
The $7.5 million from the mill levy override would be spent on new teachers, improving teacher quality, providing more support for “at-risk” students, put mobile learning devices in the hands of each student, bringing back a gifted and talented coordinator and purchasing new learning materials.
Fiedler was set to share the news with members of Brighton and Commerce City councils during their April 29 meeting (after press deadline). The first meeting of the Parents and Community for 27J committee is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 7 at Overland Trail Middle School.