Community Group Pledges Support for D51 Campaign, Board Mulls Ballot Question

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - As the District 51 School Board decides whether to ask voters for a property tax hike in November, one local community group says it's ready to help the cause should it move forward.

"Friends of District 51" told board members during a work session Tuesday, they were "energized" and would help lead the campaign to get a mill levy override passed if board members ultimately decide to put a question on the ballot.

The group also campaigned in favor of school bond questions back in 2004 and 2008.

"We tend to think that we see things the District is doing to not be part of the status quo," said Duke Wortmann, a co-chair of the group.

Wortmann says the district has done a great job becoming more efficient as it dealt with funding cuts and believes initiatives like Parent Bridge show just how innovative the district can be.

"What they're trying to do is extremely positive," said Wortmann.

Given the tough economic situation the district is facing, Friends of District 51 says it hopes voters will understand just how vital education is to the strength of the local economy -- and will keep that in mind if they end up voting on a measure to help fund schools.

"The economic engine of any great town is its schools and its school system," said Wortmann. "And that needs to be taken to a higher level sometimes to get the amount of voters you need to get something passed."

The school board has until the end of August to decide if they want to put a tax question on the ballot.

The district is currently conducting a public survey to gauge the public's support for the measure. Officials say as of Tuesday, they'd completed 400 phone surveys and received back about 6,500 of the 32,000 mail surveys they sent out.

The surveys are due to the district offices by August 5. Board members will then use the results of those surveys to make a final decision later this month.

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