by Jack Minor –
The Greeley/Evans District 6 Board of Education appears to be going into a full blown campaign mode in an attempt to get voters to approve a bond issue this November.
At September’s Parent Teacher Organization at Scott Elementary, board member Judy Kron made a pitch for a bond issue to tear down John Evans Middle School and replace it with a new school on the west side.
In making the appeal, Kron went beyond simply asking for a vote approving the issue and said she wants the parents to actively campaign for it.
“I am wanting the PTO to tell everyone including your neighbors and friends what a good deal this is,” she said.
Kron said she felt it would be easier to pass the bond issue as it is an election year and there could be a record numbers of younger voters participating this year.
“It’s easier to pass in a presidential election year because there are more young people voting. This makes it more likely to pass.”
Kron also passed out envelopes asking for donations to help spend on advertising campaigns to vote yes on bond issue, which will be known as 3A on the ballot.
The envelope provides boxes a person can check for amounts ranging from $25 on up to $400 and beyond. It notes that individuals, businesses and corporations are free to spend unlimited amounts to persuade voters to pass the issue.
The envelope also calls on residents to do more than simply vote for the initiative, asking them to become actively involved in letter writing campaigns to local newspapers and make phone calls.
Kron also made a direct pitch to the teachers who were present in the meeting, encouraging them to help pass the bond issue by knocking on doors to drum up support for the issue.
The board is asking voters to approve the issuance of $8.2 million in bonds, which would be repaid over 20 years at a cost of $14 million.
The bonds would only be issued if the district receives a $21 million grant from the state to replace John Evans. The $21 million grant would come from the state in the form of a Building Excellent Schools Together (BEST) grant. The grant monies are funded by revenues generated through leasing state-owned land and the oil and gas industry.
Kron said voters should pass the issue since if they get the grant it essentially means residents are getting a new school built at 72 percent off of the projected cost.
“If you were to go to Target and see that something was for sale at 72 percent off, you would buy it in a heartbeat. With the bulk of the money coming from the state, we are basically doing the same thing. That is quite a bargain.”
While the project to build the new school is expected to cost around $30 million, to date the district has indicated it has no intention of providing voters with a breakdown of how the $30 million will be spent, beyond simply indicating it is for a new school.
This has called some voters who are inclined to support the measure in principal to have second thoughts.
Brian Britton, who heads up the local 9-12 Project has even said he agrees the school should be destroyed. The politically active organization is a strong proponent of government accountability and fiscal discipline within constitutional boundaries.
Britton has said if the district was willing to be transparent, explaining how the $30 million figure was arrived at and provide some type of cost breakdown, he would be inclined to support it but he is not willing to give the district a $30 million check for them to spend however they want.
“If they think they can just ask voters to allow this district to have a $30 million check to spend at their discretion on a new school without any accountability they are sadly mistaken,” Britton said.
At an August board meeting, Kron acknowledged the board has a trust issue with members of the community.
“Frankly, there a lot of people in the district, who just don’t trust us,” Kron said.