The Greeley-Evans School District 6 School Board voted Monday night to ask voters this fall to approve the retention of a factory tax replacement tax to raise funds for staff and operating needs from the program.
The vote was 5-2 in favor of sending the 10-year MLO renewal to voters, taking the recommendation of a citizens’ advisory committee earlier this month.
Monday’s board vote came after 9.30pm – more than 3.5 hours after the start of the meeting held at the district administration building in Greeley.
With the ruling, the MLO question will now be included on school district voter ballots in November. Voters in District 6 initially approved of the MLO in 2017 with a vote of 59.18% in favor and 40.81% against. Nearly 22,000 residents of the district (21,936) voted on the issue five years ago.
If the renewal of the MLO is adopted, the extension will continue until 2033 with a collection in 2034, depending on the language of the ballot.
The board had to decide at Monday’s meeting whether to present the renewal to voters in order to meet election deadlines later this month for Weld County and the state.
“It’s easy to lose sight of where we were,” board member Kyle Bentley said in his comments before voting in support of sending the renewal to voters. “The Chamber (Greeley Area Chamber of Commerce) talked about exponential growth. We must keep this in mind. To sit here and worry about small things and when you talk about the big picture, we would affect children’s lives and I don’t think anyone wants to go back. There is a lot of work to be done and it is a good start to follow.
Earlier on Monday, the Greeley Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve the renewal. Jaime Henning, president and CEO of the chamber, was among those who addressed the District 6 school board during the citizen comment period at Monday night’s meeting.
Board members Natalie Mash and Pepper Mueller and board chairman Michael Mathews and vice chairman Terri Pappas joined Bentley in voting to send the question to voters.
Taylor Sullivan and Rob Norwood objected to the decision.
“I think we need to focus not on pumping money into the system, but on providing a rigorous education for all students,” Sullivan said in his remarks ahead of the vote. “I’m not against MLO but I’m against MLO now. My constituents are struggling with money right now.
Norwood, in his brief remarks before the vote, explained that his no was based on two reasons. For one thing, he talked to MLO people and many were unaware of the tax. Norwood said the economy was the other reason he could not support adding the issue of MLO renewal to the ballot.
After the meeting, Norwood – who joined the board in November 2021 along with Bentley and Sullivan – said he supported the board’s desire to opt for adding the MLO issue to the ballot.
“I’m not going to campaign against that,” he said.
About 20 people addressed the board on MLO during a public engagement portion of the meeting. Citizen speakers showed overwhelming support for the MLO.
Superintendent Deirdre Pilch encouraged the council to opt for the 10-year renewal with a sunset in her remarks ahead of the vote. Pilch said the MLO is supported by the district administration and leadership.
The district spent considerable time at the meeting presenting information in support of MLO: explaining how the funds were used and spent and how those dollars benefited the district.
“The last point is the one we’ve been talking about all night,” Mathews said before the vote.
Some of those district leaders who presented the previous MLO throughout the evening were: Chief Financial Officer Meggan Sponsler and Deputy Superintendents Kent Henson and Stacie Datteri.
In April, Sponsler said renewing the MLO was “essential” and “fundamental” to the district’s future operations.
Henson and John Gates, Mayor of Greeley and Chief District Safety and Security Officer, provided an update on safety and security measures. Safety and security improvements were a big part of the 2017 MLO and the obligation measure approved by voters two years later, which led to the construction and renovation of schools.
Safety and security measures continue to feature in district plans if the MLO is renewed. Ongoing costs are associated with security and safety upgrades beginning in 2017, including: building access controls such as locks, hardware and badges, use of campus monitors and security cameras security.
Fourteen buildings now have security cameras, tenders are currently being issued for cameras for nine other buildings, and the tendering process for cameras in four other buildings will begin this fall.
Datteri, assistant superintendent of elementary and K-8 leadership and student achievement, discussed the ongoing costs associated with supporting academic and vocational programs under the MLO.
These include after-school and summer programs, the Advanced Manufacturing Track at Greeley Central High School, the Student Recovery Program, and concurrent enrollment at Aims Community College.
Earlier in the reunion, Datteri also took part in a presentation with Early College Academy director Kim Silva about the school. Early College Academy students enroll in Aims Community College classes for free through the school district, giving them a head start on earning college credit and reducing their financial liability after graduation. their degree.
Most ECA students earn an associate’s degree from Aims as well as a high school diploma. The district’s share of student tuition and fees was $550,100 in 2021-22 and was funded by MLO.
In the evening’s final presentation before the vote, the council heard again from former Greeley Mayor Tom Norton on renewing the MLO. He returned Monday evening with updated information gathered since appearing before the council during its August 8 business session.
During those two weeks, Norton worked with Denver’s research, public affairs and communications firm Strategies 360 on an updated survey of the MLO’s 10-year renewal. The previous MLO survey was released in the spring.
From Aug. 9-15, Strategies 360 conducted a mixed-mode survey of 402 District 6 residents through landline and cell phone calls and online interviews based on voter records, according to information presented by Norton Monday night.
With minimal information and just the title of the ballot, 50% of those polled said they had strong support for renewing the MLO with 13% opposed. Another 22% of respondents said they would either lean towards supporting renewal or not have strong support.
“We’re looking for better than 50% to present it to voters,” Pilch said.
Other survey results:
- When it came to confidence in the district to spend taxpayers’ money wisely, 16% were very confident and 41% were somewhat confident, while 15% were not confident in the district spending wisely and 16% were not confident. were not at all confident.
- 47% said they get by financially each month but struggle to save money or pay for unexpected expenses, 33% said they live comfortably while saving enough for the future, and 11% struggle to make ends meet each month.
Norton said the survey also tested opposition arguments with respondents that now is not the right time to seek renewal and that there is administrative waste with funding.
- 32% said bad timing and administrative waste were strong arguments against renewals, while 31% said bad timing was somewhat convincing and 30% were somewhat convinced by the administrative waste argument.
Asking respondents to consider positive messages about the MLO, Norton indicated that there was a clear hierarchy or ranking in the responses: impact on workforce and career (85%), impact on students (77%) and staff compensation (74%) when considering the very persuasive and somewhat persuasive effect of these messages.