Colorado Springs School District 11’s buildings are aging and it must compete with wealthier districts for talent and students.
What we think:
The proposed mill levy override will help close the gap and aid students preparing for 21st century jobs.
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Most of the buildings in Colorado Springs School District 11 were built at the same time that the top hit on the pop charts was “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” The Andy Griffith Show was still on television — and not yet in syndication.
That year was 1967. Today, the average D-11 school is 50 years old, and the group of private residents who want to pass a mill levy override in November says the age of the buildings leads to problems introducing new technology, difficulty competing against surrounding school districts and a deficit in the city’s future workforce readiness.
That’s why the group called Friends of D-11 is campaigning to get voters to approve a mill levy override to November’s election. A similar measure failed to pass in 2016, but funding increases passed in neighboring school districts: Cheyenne Mountain School District 12, Academy School District 20 and District 49. Those districts are now starting new buildings, planning for new technology — leaving the city’s largest school district behind.
There’s still time to catch up. The measure would raise $42 million for the district. That equals between $9 and $15 a month, depending on a home’s valuation.
It’s so little — but it would do so much.
D-11 is the biggest school district in El Paso County and it’s educating tomorrow’s workforce. When programs like the Pikes Peak Workforce Center strive to provide additional education to an adult workforce, that effort could be so much easier if the preparation for tomorrow’s high-tech needs started in elementary, middle and high schools.
The city needs a well-educated, well-prepared workforce to draw on as industries change and jobs grow ever more technical and ever more automated. It’s time to invest in the city’s economic future, by investing in the city’s school districts.
This is not a “cash grab” by greedy administrators. It’s a well-thought-out plan to upgrade infrastructure, build new schools and meet technology training needs. D-11 has been nationally recognized for the way it handled the money from its last bond issue in 2000, and the school board acted responsibly and closed several schools that were underpopulated. The remaining schools are in serious need of an overhaul.
And the teachers are underpaid, compared to surrounding districts. Not only does D-11 have to compete with other districts for students, but it also has to compete for talent and teachers. That’s not easy when competitors have more money coming in.
As the state takes action to further tighten its fiscal belt, local residents — after all, it’s our school district — should feel compelled to take the time, learn about the issues and vote in favor of investing in the future. Even for people who don’t have school-age children (about 80 percent of D-11’s population), the mill levy override is important as the city needs to prepare for its future.
The Friends of D-11 are gearing up for a massive campaign to encourage local voters to approve more money for infrastructure upgrades.
And now it’s up to the business community to realize that the students of today are tomorrow’s employees. Support the Friends’ efforts and, if you live in District 11, vote in favor of the additional funding.