A Message from the Weld RE-5J School District Board of Education – August 1, 2018
Today, we want to share with you our intention to continue moving, with a sense of urgency, toward funding the district’s deferred maintenance issues and asking our community to make significant investments in our schools that support learning, teaching, and innovation.
Over the past year, dozens of people were involved in a Facility Improvements Task Force, the District Accountability Committee, and high school and middle school Design Leadership Teams. They examined a broad range of items including a district demographic study, facility assessments, potential construction projects, and program enhancements along with possible tax impacts. We want to take this opportunity to thank them for their time and outstanding work.
There is no question that we have made progress toward identifying future bond and mill-levy referendums. However, as a school board, we feel that we still have work to do in the coming year to fulfill our responsibility in three areas:
Completing the master planning process, which will include an educational vision, to help drive instruction and facility decisions;
Incorporating our community’s view; and
Ensuring that students get the best education for the tax dollars spent.
None of us believes that we should push “Pause.” Instead, in the 2018–19 school year the district will aggressively pursue opportunities to bring in dollars to offset the cost of facility repairs and to reduce taxpayer impact. These include, but are not limited to, the Colorado Department of Education’s Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) competitive grant program. BEST provides matching funds for capital projects, including new schools, major renovations, additions, and smaller projects. BEST grant applications are due in February of 2019, and notification of awards will occur in May/June 2019.
Additionally, the statewide citizens’ ballot Amendment 73 (Great Schools, Thriving Communities), if passed by voters in November, could bring additional, ongoing revenue to our school district. We are working to understand the requirements of the funding and the potential impact on our district.
To be clear, funding from potential BEST grants and/or Amendment 73 will not be enough. Shortfalls in state funding, totaling $26.3 million since 2009 (when the legislature enacted a maneuver called the negative factor), have prevented us from proactively addressing our maintenance issues and enhancing our facilities. We will require taxpayer support, likely in November 2019, to address pressing capacity issues at the high school as well as repairs, renovations, and expansion needs at our middle and elementary schools.
Building on the tremendous work that has been done, and with the expressed support of our school principals, the district will work with each school and its community— including our most important stakeholders, students—to identify an instructional vision and the resources and facilities needed to support it. The board intends for this to be an open and inclusive year-long process. We look forward to sharing a more comprehensive plan with you, which will include opportunities to engage, in the months ahead.
In the meantime, we invite you to share your thoughts, ideas, and interest in being involved by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org