The Platte Canyon School District has put a bond issue on the November ballot. Recently, Superintendent Mike Schmidt addressed reader’s questions about this bond issue.
What is the difference between a mill levy override and a bond issue?
Schmidt: A bond issue is only for capital projects and a very narrow list of other purposes. The district issues debt and that debt is purchased as bonds that are bought by investors. Investors like to buy bonds from school districts. These bonds become a risk-free investment because investors know the school district isn’t going out of business.
Mill levies are for school operations and apply to a wider range of school operations including salaries and special equipment. Currently the district has a mill levy override for the pool and one for staff salaries. One mill is per $100,000 value.
What has been the process to get to the point of going to the voters for a bond issue?
Schmidt: The district has been in this process for the last 20 plus years. There have been Facilities Committees looking at buildings for these years. We have continuously had expenses pouring into facilities. When I became superintendent, I went to the Board and discussed that we needed something better in place. In Fall, 2020 we began looking at facilities in earnest. We have done lots of research. Then, we brought in RTA Architects to facilitate a Master Plan in May.
We have used community input and want more of their input.
We have also worked with the State during this process. I anticipate writing for a BEST Grant by the end of 2021 if the bond issue passes. We will then know by Jan. 2022 the approval of the BEST Grant. We could then begin construction of a new school as soon as feasible with June, 2022 as the latest projection date to begin construction.
Now the community will have to decide efficiency and convenience for the preschool, elementary school, and the district as a whole. There are two options with the bond written for both. We have to decide how to consolidate and become more efficient where we can.
We can’t keep putting off minimally renovating Deer Creek Preschool and Deer Creek Elementary. We must take action soon, not in 20 years. The community needs investment in kids for quality education and good, safe facilities.
Will taxes be increased each year or will the amount of tax increase remain the same?
Schmidt: The tax increase will be $50 for $100,000 of valuation. That rate will remain the same each year. For a $400,000 home in our district, that amounts to an increase of $200-$250 each year.
Is there a time when the tax increase will be rescinded?
Schmidt: Yes, in 20 years.
A reader felt that repayment of $59.9 million for $33.9 million seems high. Can you explain?
Schmidt: The repayment is based on investment plus interest spread out over 20 years.
How will a new school help the community?
Schmidt: A new school will improve the quality of education for our kids. A new school will improve the image of our district. A new school will improve home and business values.
What happens if the bond issue does not pass?
Schmidt: The state has given the Deer Creek facility a rating exceeding .67 or 67% which indicates the building should be replaced. This rating puts Deer Creek in the top five worst educational facilities in Colorado.
If the bond issue is turned down by the voters, we will have to see if we can do any phase of the master plan with the resources now in the district and look for grants. We cannot replace a whole building with current resources. Any money used will take money away from other aspects in the district.
Deer Creek is a 50 year old building. Each of the major systems including HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), electrical, sewer and septic needs to be replaced. Each of the major systems will cost $1 million each to replace.
Schmidt is more than open to talk to any resident who wants more information about the bond issue. Any resident may arrange a tour of any of the district facilities to be conducted by Schmidt when students are not in the buildings. To contact Schmidt or to arrange a tour, please call 303-679-7411.