Editorial: Greeley-Evans district finds mill-levy override that voters can support

This time, they’ve got it right.

Supporters of a mill-levy override at Greeley-Evans District 6 say they’ve learned from past mistakes — especially one in 2009, when, in the midst of the Great Recession, voters rejected a $16 million override by a margin of 66 percent to 34 percent.

District voters can show they’ve put that failed measure behind them by supporting a much improved measure, Nov. 8, that would raise $12 million annually for seven years. Passage of the measure would end the district’s status as the largest district in Colorado without a mill-levy override. Operating without an override has meant that the district has not been able to collect property-tax revenues above what is allowed by the state.

This year’s proposal addresses many of the issues that caused the 2009 measure to go down in flames. Whereas the 2009 ballot measure received little community input, the 2016 proposal resulted from six months of outreach to business owners, home owners and other residents. Input was also gathered from public forums in English and Spanish, a telephone town hall and an online survey.

A Citizens Advisory Committee helped determine for what purposes funds would be used. In the end, they settled on using the funds to “help retain and recruit talented staff, from teachers to bus drivers; update safety and security for schools and buses, while supporting the expansion of career exploration programs,” according the district website.

Specifically, funds raised would be allocated:

• $3 million to retain and recruit staff.

• $2 million for safety and security — a key element given school-safety concerns nationwide.

• $4.2 million for personalized learning and increasing student achievement.

• $2.8 million to fund charter schools.

Simple enough, but the outreach — and other changes — could make a big difference. The override will sunset in seven years (unlike the 2009 proposed override, which carried no sunset provision). Inclusion of funding for charter schools should help garner support as well, with charter schools sharing equally on a per-pupil basis.

Greeley-Evans School District 6 has come a long way since it was removed from academic watch in 2007. Student performance has improved. But much remains to be done, and the district not only should be rewarded for the progress it’s made but also should receive the funds it needs to make progress in the future.

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