Durango School District 9-R is examining a request for bond issuance of $75 million to $85 million to improve school security, to maintain aging schools and to deal with a backlog of maintenance needs at schools, but new bonds might not require a mill levy increase.
Deputy Superintendent Andy Burns said the district spends about $1 million on building maintenance, but according to Colorado Department of Education recommendations, the district’s budget for maintenance should be about $6 million given the total 9-R building inventory.
“We are falling further and further behind in maintenance and renovations of buildings,” Burns told the Board of Education this week.
Burns said increasing the maintenance budget to $2 million or $3 million, while not meeting CDE recommendations, would make a “significant dent” in the maintenance backlog.
Dan O’Connell of RBC Capital Markets, a bond underwriting firm and financial advising firm, told board members that payment of previous bonds should allow the district to issue about $75 million in bonds without increasing the mill levy.
Issuing bonds for $85 million would require a slight increase in the mill levy, he said. He estimated it would be an increase of about 80 cents per month for the owner of a $400,000 home in the school district.
O’Connell also said general elections tend to be more favorable for school district bond issuance requests than odd-year elections or midterm elections, which have a higher percentage of retired voters with no children in schools.
Burns said the district is in a position to wait until the 2020 election to go to voters.