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Douglas County School District’s Board of Education voted 6-0 to notify the Douglas and Elbert county clerks that they plan to put one or two questions on the November ballot regarding school funding.
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On June 21, six board directors approved a resolution to select an election official and notify the appropriate county clerks of the potential ballot questions. Director Elizabeth Hanson was absent during the vote.
No specific ballot language has been identified yet, with the board scheduled to vote on the exact questions at the Aug. 23 meeting. There is no cost to inform the county clerks of the intent to put questions on the ballot, but there will be a cost to actually place the questions on the ballot.
The resolution also names DCSD Secretary Ronnae Brockman the designated election official.
DCSD is looking to a bond/MLO to help cover competitive staff salaries and upcoming needed capital projects and construction. The 2021-22 Master Capital Plan identifies between $765 million and $847 million in capital projects, including $423 million for new construction.
While the resolution to move forward with bond/MLO questions was originally on the board’s consent agenda, Director Susan Meek asked to make it a discussion item because she hoped to get more information regarding the community’s thoughts on a proposed mill levy override and/or a bond.
“I’m 100% on board that we need this and I want a viable plan for how we’re going to be successful getting this to pass,” Meek said.
A recent survey presented by the Mill Bond Exploratory Committee at the June 7 board meeting showed 39% of voters would approve a bond/MLO in Novembe and 18% were undecided.
Meek made a motion to direct Superintendent Erin Kane to work with staff to create a Google form survey that could be distributed within the school district to gather more specifics about what the board can do to earn voter support. She stipulated that the survey would run from July 11 to Aug. 12.
“The next reason (voters didn’t support a funding initiative) was a lack of trust in the district and how it spends its money,” Meek said. “That’s really the top item I think we can use feedback to develop a game plan to be successful in November.”
The motion failed on a 3-3 vote, with directors Mike Peterson, Kaylee Winegar and Christy Williams dissenting.
Peterson said he was supportive of the idea to get more community feedback, but felt it was too early on in the process to survey voters since the board doesn’t have the specific ballot question identified.
Winegar and Williams also said they agreed with getting more community feedback, but added they wanted more time to discuss what that would look like.
“I’m concerned about the timeline we’re putting around it, the dates and the extra work we’re putting on staff without having more clarity around what’s needed,” Williams said.
Meek also motioned to make the community survey results that were presented at the June 9 meeting available to the public on the district’s website. Directors agreed that was a good idea and voted to place the results on the Mill Bond Exploratory Committee page on the district website.
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