School board to make decision on tax measure by late August

Board members will consider results of poll, public feedback

Posted 7/2/18

A recent poll of 400 residents in Douglas County revealed that more than half of respondents are favorable of the school district and believe that taxpayer money is handled wisely. “The results …

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School board to make decision on tax measure by late August

Board members will consider results of poll, public feedback

Posted

A recent poll of 400 residents in Douglas County revealed that more than half of respondents are favorable of the school district and believe that taxpayer money is handled wisely.

“The results would indicate that there is basis for the (school) board to continue the conversation about a potential election,” Scott Smith, acting chief financial officer, said at a June 19 school board meting in Castle Rock.

The Douglas County School Board is getting closer to making its final decision on whether it will place a tax measure on the ballot this November for additional funding. Critical needs across the district are teacher retention, school programming and building repairs.

In late May, the board hired research firm Public Opinion Strategies to survey residents throughout the county of 346,000 people on their views of the school district and funding. The survey was conducted over landline and cell phones.

Results showed that the highest funding priorities for residents are academic standards; school safety; learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); career-based skills; and teacher pay. Between 70 percent and 75 percent of respondents ranked the categories listed above as “extremely or very important.”

When asked about a mill levy override, or MLO, to help fund increased salaries for teachers, mental health services and career-based learning opportunities, 66 percent of respondents were in support, 29 percent opposed and 5 percent were undecided. Respondents heard two MLO amounts, 7.63 mills and 4.7 mills, but there was no significant difference in the responses, according to a report from the research firm.

A bond measure to address building repairs, programming and school safety garnered similar support. According to the research firm, 59 percent of respondents support a $392 million bond measure proposal and 56 percent support a $292 million dollar bond measure proposal. In both scenarios, 37 percent of respondents said they would oppose a bond measure.

Respondents were also made aware of the financial impact of the tax measures. For the larger tax amounts, the average homeowner with a home value of $474,000 would see an impact of $297 per year and for the smaller tax amounts, the impact would be $166 per year. About 60 percent of respondents said they would approve either tax measure knowing the impacts, the firm’s report states.

The school board expects to make a decision on a tax measure at an Aug. 21 board meeting at the district’s administration building, 620 Wilcox Street in Castle Rock. In the meantime, board members will consider the results of the poll, along with public feedback.

Board member Wendy Vogel recommended that district staff, including the new permanent superintendent Thomas Tucker, who begins July 1, make a recommendation to the board prior to its final decision.

Although the district hasn’t been successful in passing tax measures in recent history —the community voted down a $200 million bond and $29 million MLO in 2011, and a $395 million bond and $17 million MLO in 2008 — school board President David Ray is optimistic about the polling results.

“I think overall we can say we got favorable results that indicate if we were to place an MLO and bond (on the ballot), that would be something our taxpayers would welcome,” he said.

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