Aspen School District ballot issue 3A asked voters to raise their property taxes to the maximum level allowed by the state of Colorado. The increase, which will deliver an additional $991,000 per year to the district, won by more than a two-to-one margin.
Candidates answer questions from Aspen Journalism and The Aspen Times about their reasons for running, school funding, academics, school culture and governance.
Multiple times over the past month, school board candidate Lee Mulcahy has claimed the school district was planning to spend $40,000 to equip a school bus with wireless Internet service. School officials are planning to purchase a Wi-Fi-equipped bus, but they say Mulcahy’s numbers are wrong.
In the “new normal” of Colorado school funding, the state legislature moderates total per-pupil funding using a fixed percentage and school districts attempt to take up that budgetary slack through local tax initiatives.
To pay off a $122 million loan, the district is asking voters to raise their property taxes by $55 for every $100,000 of assessed value. Commercial property owners would pay even more: $204 for every $100,000 of value. The increase would be in place for 20 years.
The gym is now closed for repairs, and without it the college fair, set for Oct. 4, cannot fit indoors. So organizers decided to relocate the event to the Aspen Middle School parking lot.
All candidates agreed that Aspen can and should find creative ways to address the statewide school-funding gap, but certain candidates also spotlighted morale issues at Aspen High School and underperformance in math and science.
The Aspen School District mistakenly listed three four-year seats for the November ballot, when in fact only two of the open seats will come with four-year terms.
The Roaring Fork School District’s $122 million proposal includes major work on Basalt Middle School and a long-awaited overhaul of the parking and dropoff area at Basalt Elementary.
The Aspen School District Board of Education has placed a property tax increase on the Nov. 3 ballot, but the district expects to come back with a separate sales-tax proposal in November 2016.