I am writing to express my deep concern about the recent failure to pass Ballot Issue 5B in Douglas County and the significant negative impact this decision will have on our community, particularly our schools.
Some taxpayers argued that they were unwilling to pay for new schools in neighborhoods far from their own. However, had 5B passed, it would have benefited every single school in the district. Funds would have paid for crucial areas in special education, information technology, safety, athletic and activity upgrades, and buses. Now DCSD cannot make these urgent repairs, nor can it fix mechanical and electrical systems, roofs, intercom systems, parking lots, and playgrounds, or introduce energy-efficient equipment to lower utility bills.
Other voters argued that new schools should be financed by housing developers such as in Sterling Ranch. While this is an ideal scenario, the reality is developers were not required to build schools, and at the same time buyers were assured schools would be built for their children. Instead of punishing students by withholding essential funds, voters should direct their criticism towards the county commissioners who are responsible for negotiating such terms with developers.
Others opposed the ballot issue based on a lack of trust in conservative board members after witnessing them go back on their campaign promises of transparency. However, as with previous mill/bond measures, the board is legally obligated to establish a public oversight committee. This committee ensures transparency and monitors the responsible spending of every dollar.
Some voters maintained that money should be found elsewhere within the district budget. I implore those who voted “no” on 5B because of this to show us where you can find a spare $484 million. DCSD maintains an extremely lean budget, spending far less per student than similar, neighboring districts. And increased property taxes do not provide for more school funding because they simultaneously result in the state giving Douglas County less. (Source: investindcsd.com/faq).
No one likes a local tax increase, even one as minimal as what 5B would have incurred. But grownups take care of their children, homes, and neighborhoods. There is no way around the cold, hard fact that infrastructure takes money to maintain, and we’ll see another bond on the ballot again. I urge my neighbors to reconsider the long-term consequences of neglecting their school district the next time they vote.
Kelly Allan, Highlands Ranch