BY FREDA MIKLIN
At its regular board meeting Aug. 23, the Littleton Public Schools Board of Education (LPS) took three major interrelated steps to ensure its students have every opportunity for success. All three actions were approved unanimously.
New bond issue
Diane Doney, LPS assistant superintendent of business services/chief financial officer, accompanied by community member Brian Bostwick, told the board that the long-range planning committee, whose goal was, “To review the district physical plant, program capacity, enrollment boundaries, transportation routing and major capital equipment requirements, and determine what improvements to efficiency, sustainability, and infrastructure needs may be required during the next five to 10 years,” met 25 times between April 2017 and July 2018, to accomplish its goals. She said there were 15 to 20 community members and two staff members, including herself, present at most meetings.
After careful and detailed analysis, the committee recommended a bond package that would, “improve safety and security at school buildings, provide a career, technical, and innovation center to provide college-level courses and career-focused learning for more students,…repair, renovate or reconstruct aged school buildings to be safer, more efficient and accessible to all students, including those with physical disabilities, and provide a classroom environment necessary to teach the skills for college, military service and careers of the future.”
To accomplish these goals, the committee recommended that LPS rebuild Newton Middle School and add a new junior stadium, rebuild and reopen Ames Elementary as a neighborhood school, and construct a new elementary school with five classes for each grade level, to serve the current Highland and Franklin Elementary communities, on the current campus of Franklin Elementary. The committee also recommended the acquisition of updated furniture throughout the district to facilitate modern instruction methods.
After hearing from several community members, as well a representative of LPS teachers, all of whom agreed with the committee, the school board voted unanimously to submit a bond package totaling $296 million to LPS district residents in November. To ensure careful monitoring of spending, the proposed bond document provides that the expenditure of bond proceeds, “will be monitored by a board of education-appointed oversight committee of residents, and such expenditures will be reported in the district’s independent audit published on the district’s website.”
Jack Reutzel, board president, asked Doney what the cost of the bond issue would be to taxpayers. She said it would be in the range of $29 to $49 per $100,000 of actual value, depending on whether constitutional Amendment 73 passes, which would reduce residential property taxes in favor of higher state income taxes to Colorado’s highest earners.
Support for Amendment 73
Certified for the November ballot is a statewide school funding initiative that would raise $1.6 billion in annual revenue for K-12 by increasing state income taxes on individuals with taxable income over $150,000 and all “C” corporations. If approved, LPS would receive $23 million, which it would use for several programs, including full-day kindergarten. While increasing school funding, Amendment 73 could also result in some homeowners’ seeing their property tax bills lowered. The parent community encouraged the LPS school board to pass a resolution in support of Amendment 73. The board enthusiastically complied.
Acquisition of Schomp property
LPS has been trying to find a location to create a new career and technical education (CTE) and innovation center for the district that is accessible by public transportation since many LPS students don’t have access to cars. The board’s goal is to provide hands-on learning experiences for students who plan to enter the workforce after graduation, enabling more students to earn an industry certification or two-year associate degree, and give students who plan to pursue a four-year degree in a CTE field a head start that will lessen their cost of college. Programs LPS hopes to offer at this school include automotive, aviation, computer coding, drones and robotics technology, healthcare and construction trades.
At the Aug. 23 meeting, the board approved an agreement to purchase a 5-acre property at 190 E. Littleton Blvd., a central location for district high schools, from the Schomp family, longtime LPS supporters. The terms of the sale include a purchase price between $7 million and $8 million, to be determined by appraisal at a later date, however LPS will only pay 85 percent of the final price, the remaining 15 percent to be donated by the Schomp family but will not be completed for two to three years. The agreement contains options for LPS to cancel if it does not have all necessary approvals to proceed.
2017 All Rights Reserved. Villager Publishing |