School District 49 to seek $107 million from voters

November ballot questions would address growing enrollment

D-49 to Seek Funding From Voters in November

FALCON, Colo. - A funding plan for improvements at School District 49 would allow the district to improve its resources with only a small tax increase to voters, a D-49 administrator said Tuesday.

Peter Hilts, the district's chief education officer, said two questions on the November ballot would generate $107 million by continuing the existing mill levy and charging about $1 per month on property tax for the average home.

"Our original plan was to request about $190 million," Hilts said.  "But we realize our taxpayers are sensitive about taxes.  Our district is known for using its money efficiently.  We think most taxpayers are on board with us, that we need this money."

The district's enrollment has grown from 10,680 in 2005 to 18,880 for the current school year.

Hilts said the district is overdue for expansions and improvements, particularly at Horizon Middle School -- which opened in 1985 -- and the district also wants to build three new schools, improve educational programs and provide better pay for faculty and staff during the next two years.

"We won't frame this as a scenario where if we don't get the buildings, bad things will happen to students," Hilts said.  "If the voters reject it, we'll adjust.  We'll continue to overcrowd the schools that we already have."

Hilts said he's confident the ballot questions will pass because the district held about 100 public meetings earlier in the year to inform taxpayers.  But one resident said he hasn't learned enough yet to decide how he'll vote.

"If they can prove to me that they need the money and show what it's for, then I'm in favor of it," said Ray Mowry.  "I know that schools always need money.  Maybe if I had a pamphlet or something with information, that'd help me decide."

Hilts said the district will continue to educate voters about the ballot request until Election Day.

The district last had a successful ballot request in 2005.  Voters rejected requests in 2010 and 2011.

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