The Park County RE-2 School Board recently approved final language for Ballot Initiative 4B and unanimously passed a resolution to support the measure.
The board described the initiative as ‘long-awaited,” and added that, if passed, would “resolve the district’s current financial struggles.”
PCSD RE-2 represents the schools in the town of Fairplay, Lake Geroge and Guffey.
What, exactly, is 4B?
Initiative 4B is a mill levy override, which is different from the bond issue which the district passed in 2009.
A bond issue is a property tax increase that has a set term on it and the money can only be used for capital improvements to building facilities.
The residents of Park County came together in 2009 to pass a bond issue to build the new South Park facilities, but now, 12 years later, the district is asking the community to help the district strengthen programming and to offer more educational opportunities for students.
The mill levy override, or Ballot Issue 4B, will raise the average homeowner’s property taxes by about $5.15 per month. This will raise $1,154,923.65 each year for the Park County RE-2 School district and will be divided between the Fairplay Campus ($862,474.50), Lake George Campus ($227,019.15) and Guffey Campus ($65,429.10).
This money will be the only income for the schools that is not part of the state’s funding formula and therefore completely locally controlled..
Exactly how would new funds be used if 4B passes?
Many Park County voters might be interested in knowing exactly how the district would allocate funds that would total approximately $1.15 million if the measure passes. The following is by no means a compehensive list of the district’s objectives if voters approve the initiative, but should serve as a general synopsis to explain why the funds are needed, and how they would be spent.
1. The School Board’s biggest priority for the funds generated through 4B is to start a robust vocational trades program.
This program will bring shop, auto mechanics, welding etc., back to the school so students are graduating ready to enter the workforce or go to college.
The School Board is also passionate about bringing the school and the community together, and with this vocational trades program the students will go out in the community and work with local businesses to learn about careers. 4B funds would also be used to bring back in person advanced placement classes, increase extracurricular activities such as debate and drama clubs, expand athletics programs and strengthen the band program.
2. 4B funds would also be used to pay for a vocational trades program which will allow graduates to be better equipped to enter the workforce, giving our local businesses more employees to keep their business successful.
3. 4B funds would also strengthen the local workforce in other ways. Education services are the second largest employer in Park County. With this money the district would be able to hire more people, giving more community members the chance for great employment.
4B funds would also allow the district to increase salaries. Increased pay allows teachers to put down roots in our community by purchasing or renting housing, and become long-term, invested community members. These funds would also give district employees the means to shop at local stores, get their hair cut in local salons, buy gas at local gas stations and eat out at local restaurants.
4. Funds from the mill levy override would also increase mental health support for students, improve educational technology, increase funding for band and athletics programs and increase operational funding for the Guffey and Lake George Charter schools.
What they are saying
The Flume has seen a dramatic increase in letters to the editor in recent weeks, and the vast majority of them have been from subscribers who favor ballot initiatives proposed by our local schools.
One such supporter is Erin Pellant, who has been involved with the Park County RE-2 School District for many years.
“As a supporter of the mill levy override ballot measure 4B, it was so affirming and exciting to hear the school board members unanimously pass this resolution last week. The resolution shows our entire community that our Board of Education is in complete support of ballot measure 4B and what the mill levy override can and will do for our students now and in the future.“
“I have been attending school board meetings on a regular basis for the last two years, and I can see that the current administration and our Board of Education is united in their goals to find the local funding that our district so desperately needs to ensure that they create quality programming and increase opportunities for all students at RE-2. It is a positive change and very exciting to watch this shift happen in our schools.“
Lisa Shane of Fairplay also expressed enthusiasm for the proposed mill levy override.
“As a parent, community member and small business owner, I am elated that the South Park School District Board of Education has resolved to support 4B on the upcoming ballot in November,” Shane said..”The passing of this measure will allow for significant growth in vocational, mental health, and academic programming for our students which is essential for their future success. Their support of this vital measure shows their dedication to the students and community of the Park County RE-2 school district.”