Referendums 3A & 3B: Schools bank on ballot measures

Scott Condon

The Roaring Fork School District is going to voters in November to seek funds to improve school buildings in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs and to increase pay for its teachers.The capital improvements and increased pay for teachers are split into two questions. Referendum 3A on the ballot would increase the property tax mill levy to raise an additional $1.8 million in operating revenues. Those revenues would be dedicated solely to increasing the pay of teachers and other district personnel and for maintaining small class sizes in grades kindergarten through third.”Without this funding these two important district priorities are put at risk, and the district will have a difficult time attracting and retaining staff versus our neighboring school districts in our high cost-of-living area,” states campaign literature from Citizens for Investing in Roaring Fork School District Kids.Referendum 3B would authorize the school district to issue $86 million in bonds and raise property taxes to pay them off. The school district wants to spend the funds to upgrade facilities “to standards more appropriate for the 21st Century instead of the 1930s,” the campaign literature said.The school district conducted a study of all facilities and came up with a wish list of about $120 million in needed repairs. That list was pared down to $86 million of the most vital projects, allowing for inflation that will occur during a three-year phasing of the plan. According to campaign literature, a home with a value of $400,000 will pay an additional $240 annually in property taxes for the school district.Referendum 3B also identifies specific projects that will receive the funds. The district is legally bound to use the money on those projects, according to Shannon Pelland, finance director for the district.If the $86 million bond gets approved, Glenwood Springs would receive $38.2 million in improvements; Carbondale would get $30.7 million; and Basalt would receive $14.6 million.Highlights of the work would include expansion and consolidation of the Basalt Elementary School and expansion of the high school.The work in Glenwood would feature replacing the high school, which was built in 1952. At Carbondale, the school district wants to build a new high school and move the middle school to the existing high school.If the bond doesn’t pass, the district will have to find the funds for repairs within its existing budget. “District operating funds needed for instruction will instead be spent on these repairs – less money will be available for paying employees an adequate salary and keeping small class sizes,” said proponents’ campaign literature.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is


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