The Mancos School District is preparing for a fall election that will include a ballot measure to raise taxes for a school renovation.
In June, the school district was approved for a nearly $20 million Building Excellent Schools Today grant for the project, which was estimated to cost a total of about $25 million.
In August, the school board approved a ballot question for the upcoming election that would acquire the remaining $5 million by raising property taxes. A volunteer bond committee has scheduled several open houses and public meetings on the issue for the coming weeks.
If passed, Ballot Measure 3A would increase the school district’s debt by $4.95 million and pay it off by raising district property taxes up to a total of $575,000 annually. The impact of this tax increase would vary among residential, commercial and agricultural property owners.
Anne Benson, a member of the volunteer bond committee, said she and her colleagues have planned several public information meetings about the ballot measure, starting with a school open house on Thursday. The bond committee also has scheduled an open house with tours of the building for Oct. 2 and a public presentation, with a question-and-answer session, for Oct. 23 at the Mancos Public Library.
Although she said some community members are concerned about the cost of the project, Benson said most of the feedback she’s heard has been positive.
“The school is in such disrepair, I think the community is pretty much behind us,” she said. “Honestly, $5 million for $25 million is a pretty good deal.”
Money from the tax increase would go to fund improvements on Walnut Street in front of the preschool, construction of a new parking lot to the east of the elementary school, a new elementary playground, a new walking bridge that would allow access to an outdoor classroom over the Mancos River, and a remodel of several sections of the elementary and high school buildings, among other things. Superintendent Brian Hanson said the district hopes to start construction in spring if the ballot measure passes.
The school is also applying for a $350,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant to help build the elementary school playground. Hanson said if the district receives that grant, it will reduce the amount of money that will have to be raised through property taxes.
Bond committee member Kaelan Everett said she hopes the upcoming events will showcase the schools’ need for renovation.
“We’re hoping to get a lot of people who have never been in the buildings to walk through and see the difficulties we’re facing,” she said.
The district has asked Mancos voters to submit “pro and con statements” about the ballot measure ahead of its placement on the November ballot. They can be turned in at the school district office until noon on Friday. A summary of the comments will be included in the district’s notice of election for the ballot measure, which must be mailed out by Oct. 6.
The mail-in election is Nov. 7.