This November, the Cherry Creek School District Board of Education will ask voters to approve a $125 million bond issue and a $25 million budget override.
The school district’s Long Range Facility Planning Committee, a group of citizens and district employees, was charged with conducting a Five-Year Needs Assessment, covering 2012 to 2017. The committee determined that the district’s school buildings and other facilities were in need of maintenance, improvement and various upgrades.
On April 16, the school board approved a resolution to put questions on the Nov. 6 ballot asking voters to approve a bond issue and budget override.
If approved, the bond issue would allocate millions of dollars in improvements to schools in Southeast Aurora. Area high schools, Cherokee Trail, Eaglecrest, Grandview, and Smoky Hill, would receive funds for classroom and equipment renovations for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programming.
In addition, new classroom wings are planned for Grandview and Cherokee Trail, where enrollment already exceeds capacity. The committee recommended the expansions at the high schools rather than building a new high school, which would have cost $125 million, the same amount as the all of the other bond projects combined.
Other schools in Southeast Aurora also slated for improvements are Horizon, Laredo and Thunder Ridge middle schools. Technology and security upgrades are planned for all schools, including elementary schools.
“After $40 million in budget reductions for the last three years, we will no longer be able to sustain and strengthen the excellence that the Cherry Creek School District is known for without a voter approved budget override,” said Board President Jennifer Churchfield. “This election is critical to making a difference in the lives of more than 51,000 students.”
Board of Education member David Willman said some of the high school classes already have high student-to-teacher ratios. If a budget override is not approved, he is concerned that parents would ending up paying more for extra-curricular activities and classroom instruction, such as fees for books, and class sizes may remain big.
“We are already as lean as we can be,” he said, explaining that the district has cut the equivalent of 375 full-time employees over the last four years.
The budget election would provide $25 million for operating expenses to:
- • Maintain class size
- • Provide curriculum and instruction necessary for success in college and the workplace
- • Continue the district’s commitment to academic excellence
- • Utilize technology to ensure student success in the 21st century
The bond and budget election would cost the owner of an average home in the district about $8 per month in additional property taxes. Voters last approved a bond and budget election in 2008.
Cherry Creek’s Chief Financial Officer Guy Bellville told board members that without a budget election, the district will face a budget shortfall of more than $16.4 million for the 2012-2013 school year. Currently, the district is operating on about the same funding levels as the 2006-2007 school year despite adding 2,700 students and other increasing costs.
“We have 13 grades of students being educated in our schools,” board member Jim O’Brien said. “That’s the equivalent of a generation. I am worried about whether they will have the classroom experience they need without the passage of the budget and bond issues.”
Budget Development & 2012-2013 Financial Planning documents
- Financial Planning Executive Summary.pdf
- Funding Overview 2012-2013.pdf
- Projected Revenues and Expenditures 2012-2013.pdf
- Proposed School Finance Act 2012-2013.pdf
- Analysis of Reserves.pdf