In July 2016, RTA Architects conducted a comprehensive facilities study that outlined the condition of our school buildings, which resulted in the Board of Education approving the selection of the Planning Assistance Team (PAT) -- a diverse group of community members -- to research the findings and provide recommendations on how to proceed.
The PAT met 13 times over the course of a year and in April 2018 finalized a proposed vision or master plan that outlined a possible course of action. The group carefully considered factors such as safety and security, major sustaining capital improvements (not upkeep and maintenance), increasing enrollment numbers, BEST grant requirements, and other items that influenced their final decision.
The following is a list of FAQs (as of May 30, 2018) generated by the PAT's work over the course of this past year. If you have a question that is not answered in the list, please send it to ASD Communications Specialist Kim Elzinga at email@example.com.
Why is Archuleta School District 50 JT considering placing a bond measure on the November 2018 ballot?
Archuleta School District seeks to address its highest priority capital facility needs, including replacing the aging elementary school and addressing upgrades to the middle school and high school. Over the past nine years, state funding to the District has been cut by a total of $13 million. Funds are not available to address these facility needs.
What improvements would be addressed at each school?
The proposal calls for the replacement of the existing elementary school with a new school sized to serve Pre-K through 5th Grade. Improvements to the middle school would focus on health, life-safety, security and ADA accessibility. The updated middle school would serve grades 6th through 8th. Safety and security improvements would also be addressed at the high school as well as the construction of a Career & Technical Education building and an additional gymnasium.
What is the total cost of the proposed facility improvements?
Construction of New Elementary School Total Cost: $33,339,018
Middle School Improvements Total Cost: $4,605,260
High School Improvements Total Cost: $11,412,000
Why was the decision made to replace the elementary school rather than the middle school?
Facility challenges at the elementary school outweigh those at the middle school, especially with regard to the lack of space. For example, lunch periods start at 10:30am at the elementary school because there is simply not enough space to accommodate all students at normal lunch hours. Plus, with a new elementary school that could accommodate increasing enrollment and include 5th grade, safety and security issues at the middle school could be more easily addressed.
How would building a new elementary school impact the middle school?
In terms of educational programming, 5th grade is more suitable to elementary school, not middle school. Moving students in 5th grade to the elementary school would enable the middle school to house all of its students in 6th to 8th grade under one roof, thus eliminating the need for them to walk back and forth between two buildings.
Has the District applied for grant funding from the State of Colorado to help cover the cost of these improvements?
Yes, in February the District applied for three grants totaling nearly $15 million from the State’s Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program that would have provided 39% of the total cost of the proposed capital facility improvements. The State received more than $900 million; $288 million were awarded to projects statewide. Most of the communities who had received awards already had passed bonds for those projects.
Did the State award BEST grants to the District?
In May the District was awarded $199,680 in BEST funding for safety and security improvements at the high school. The District did not receive BEST grants for the elementary or middle schools.
How will the BEST grant impact total costs of the project?
The total cost at the high school is $11,412,000. With the BEST grant award of $199,680, the required matching funds needed is $11,212,320.
What is estimated tax impact of the proposed voter-approved bond measure with the awarded BEST grant?
For a 20-year, $49.46 million bond proposal, the tax impact would be $6.26 per month per $100,000 of home’s actual value, or about $75.12 per year. If all three BEST grants were awarded, tax impact would have been $5.59 per month per $100,000 of a home’s actual value. That’s a difference of 67¢ per $100,000 of home’s actual value.
Can the District re-apply for a BEST grant for the elementary and middle school renovations?
Yes, the District can re-apply for grant funding from the BEST program next year. However, there is no guarantee that all or a portion of this request would be awarded.
What is the sunset date of the District’s current bond?
Payments on the current bond will expire in December 2020.
When the current bond for construction of the high school expires, what happens to property owners’ taxes?
The bond levy would go away and property taxes would be reduced by $22.76 per year per $100,000 of a home’s actual value.
Does the District’s enrollment currently include students not living in Archuleta County?
For the school year 2017-18, approximately 100 students from outlying counties attended Archuleta School District schools, representing approximately 6.6% of the student population. These out-of-county students are included in the total enrollment figures provided to the State of Colorado.
Why is the District also considering placing a mill levy override (MLO) measure on the November 2018 ballot?
The District is looking to address its highest priority operating needs, including recruiting and retaining teachers and staff, expanding full-day kindergarten opportunities and hiring three school resource officers to improve school safety and security.
What is the difference between a bond measure and mill levy override measure?
The proceeds of a voter-approved bond measure go toward bricks and mortar type projects, whereas a voter-approved mill levy typically goes toward ongoing operations.
Have voters in our District previously approved an MLO measure?
Over the past 68 years, the District has had no MLOs approved. This creates a competitive disadvantage with other districts of our size and within our region.
What challenges does the District face regarding recruiting and retaining teachers?
Other Colorado school districts that have obtained voter-approved MLO funding are aggressively recruiting seasoned teachers throughout the state by providing higher pay and benefits. When we lose teachers, it is very expensive to recruit and train new ones. Losing experienced teachers also has an impact on student performance and lowers teacher morale.
What are the benefits of full-day kindergarten?
Research shows that full-day kindergarten provides many benefits, including higher long-term achievement, higher reading scores in early grades, higher self-esteem, and other positive outcomes.
What are the benefits of the proposed bond measure and MLO measure?
Some of the many anticipated benefits include:
• Improving safety and security district-wide
• Extending the useful life of the middle school and high school
• Improving accessibility for students, staff, parents and visitors with disabilities
• Enhancing energy efficiencies, saving taxpayer dollars
• Leveraging instructional technology, promoting collaboration in the classroom, and aligning teaching methods with 21st century skills
How does the tax on marijuana affect funding to our schools?
According to the Colorado Department of Education, “Colorado voters approved the legal sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older with a portion of the tax revenue going to education. Though the amount of tax revenue that comes from marijuana sales is minimal -- around 1 percent of the state's total education budget -- the money is directed to a variety of programs, including school construction, bullying prevention and behavioral health.” The CDE’s website explains how that money is allocated. Find out more at their website: www.cde.state.co.us/communications/20160902marijuanarevenue
Where does the state’s lottery money go?
According to Colorado Lottery, “Every Colorado Lottery game you buy funds the places that help make Colorado such an incredible place to live and play. Since 1983, we’ve invested more than $3 billion (yep—with a “B”) on protecting Colorado’s wilderness and creating trails, parks, pools, and recreation. As a result, the impact of Lottery dollars can be seen all across the state, in ways both big and small.
How do we decide where the money goes? In 1992, Colorado voters made the decision to distribute profits from the sale of Lottery products according to this formula: 50 percent to the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Trust Fund, 40 percent to the Conservation Trust Fund, and 10 percent to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. GOCO funds in FY18 are capped at $66.2 million and funds that exceed the GOCO cap go to the Colorado Department of Education, Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund.” Find out more on their website: www.coloradolottery.com/en/about/giving-back/
Will the District pursue a bond and/or MLO since the District was awarded just one BEST grant?
As part of future community outreach meetings and mail survey, the District will be seeking the public’s input on this important question. The District’s safety, security and other needs did not go away. The Board of Education will make the final decision regarding a bond and MLO.
To what extent has the District done its homework in defining its capital facility and operating needs, and involving the community in the planning efforts?
The District’s bond and MLO proposals represent many months of planning, including extensive assistance from numerous community members, business, education and civic leaders, and other stakeholders.
Why does the Board of Education believe this is the right time to place a bond and MLO on the ballot?
Construction and borrowing costs continue to go up. The longer the District waits to address its highest priority capital facility needs, the more it will cost. There is also a strong need to make our schools safer and more secure and reduce teacher turnover.
What is the estimated tax impact of the proposed voter-approved mill levy?
The estimated tax impact of the $1.7 million mill levy is $3.58 per month per $100,000 of a home’s actual value, or about $42.98 per year. Furthermore, all MLO funds would stay local. None of these monies would go back to the State.
Would the tax impact be lower for homeowners who qualify and apply for the Colorado Senior Property Tax Exemption?
Yes, the tax impact would be lower for seniors who qualify for the Colorado Senior Property Tax Exemption.
How does that exemption affect total dollars received, especially since many residents in our community would qualify?
The State of Colorado pays the difference, so the amount of money the District would receive should the bond pass would not be affected.
What oversight would be in place?
All spending from the bond would be publicly disclosed and project updates would be presented at community information meetings as well as on the District’s website. If BEST funding is awarded, additional oversight would be provided through the Colorado Department of Education Capital Construction Division. All project spending would be reviewed by an independent external auditor.
What are the next steps in this process?
The District is currently conducting a public opinion survey (mail survey) to receive valuable input from voters. The results of that survey will be reviewed by a Citizens Task Force, which has already met three times to receive information about the proposed bond and MLO. Their recommendations will appear before the Board of Education on June 28. Based on the Task Force’s report, the findings of the mail survey and other public input, the Board will make a final decision on whether or not to pursue a bond or MLO proposal on the November ballot.
How can residents provide their thoughts and recommendations on the two funding proposals?
Concerned citizens can contact ASD's Administrative office at (970) 264-2228 or email Superintendent Linda Reed directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.