Tuesday, October 18, 2016

No time like present for evaluating past and future

Last week was homecoming for the Discovery Canyon Campus (DCC) Thunder. Also, District 20 was hosting one of a series of meetings about the upcoming November bond issue at DCC's Auditorium. This weekend, a top-ranked Thunder football team vied with Lewis-Palmer High School for bragging rights in the state standings.
I couldn't help myself from humming the chorus from an early hit from Willie Nelson:
"It's been so long now but it seems now it was only yesterday. Gee, ain't it funny how time slips away."
One only has to drive down North Gate Blvd., in the few miles between I-25 and Colorado State Highway 83, to see what kind of impact building a school can have. I personally remember how much you had to slow down to navigate the bend in Old Northgate Road, just beyond the horse pasture at the big cottonwood.
In calling for the $230 million bond amount for this election, the D-20 board cited growth in the district since the last measure in 2001. The rolls have increased by 7,000 students since 2001 and the district is projecting 5,000 additional students by 2026.
Despite that, D20 leadership says state funding for K-12 continues to decrease. Academy District 20 has experienced approximately $150 million in state funding reductions since 2009. Academy District 20 says the $230 million bond issue is needed to build three schools, including two elementary schools and a middle school. The proposed bond will be used to build two new elementary schools, one middle school and an innovation and learning center.
In addition, property owners will not see a property tax rate increase.
“Because the district has refinanced existing debt, thereby reducing repayment costs; paid down principal debt; and is realizing expansion of the tax base; the district can issue $230 million in bonds over a five year period and meet debt service requirements within the existing tax levy,”says Allison Cortez, communications for D-20.
The last time the district asked taxpayers for money 15 years ago, a lot of it went into building DCC.
In 2001 Academy District 20 asked and received authorization from voters to issue $163 million in tax exempt bonds. The district used those bonds to:
• Build one high school, Discovery Canyon Campus
• Build one middle school, Discovery Canyon Campus
• Build five Elementary Schools (Discovery Canyon Campus, Ranch Creek, The da Vinci Academy, Mountain View and Chinook Trail)
• Rebuild 90% of Edith Wolford
• Create an addition to Rampart High School
• And provide technology and facility improvements at all schools
True, $163 million went a lot farther 15 years ago than it does today.
But from current measures bond proceeds, DCC will receive an addition to the building of at least 10 classrooms (enrollment growth), expanded parking, additional tennis courts to provide a total of six, technology infrastructure improvements, solutions to drainage issues, $1.1 million to spend on capital needs defined by the school community, and from other capital funds the High School gym will be enlarged to at least the size of other district high schools. The campus was constructed with $70 million of proceeds from the last bond authorization (2001), says Cortez.
Edith Wolford will receive connection to fiber optics and other technology infrastructure improvements, and $155k to spend on capital needs defined by the school community. 90% of the school was rebuilt using proceeds from the last bond authorization (2001).
Antelope Trails will receive a remodel to the main entry (safety/security), increased electrical capacity, roof repair/replacement, improved access to the playfield, and $230k to spend on capital needs defined by the school community. The Classical Academy plans to construct a gymnasium, an auditorium, a cafeteria, remodel the existing cafeteria into a library, construct additional parking at the north campus, Cortez said.
Ballots began mailing at the first of the month, I am told. Halloween is the last day to submit a voter registration and receive a mail ballot. Voting has to take place by Nov. 8, either by mail, or by surrendering your mail ballot at the polls, and voting in person.
In evaluating time (ironically an idea lifted from last week's Time magazine), we need to look at the link with our past, ourselves and our future. In different ways, each makes a fascinating argument that the most important time is the present.

___Rob Carrigan 

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