Summit School District invites community input on facilities |

Summit School District invites community input on facilities

SUMMIT COUNTY – Is it possible to give Summit County’s schools a major face lift and lower taxes at the same time?

Summit School District officials think so, and they want taxpayer input to work out the details.

Over the next several weeks, members of the administration and board of education will host a series of forums to begin a dialogue about the facilities needs of the local public school system.

The eight-month-long discussion will culminate at the ballot box in November.

“This is a lengthy process, and we’re working to make sure that we’re hearing community input,” said district business director Dan Huenneke.

In the next few years, the district hopes to complete a major overhaul of Summit Middle School, construction of a new career and technical education center at the high school and rehabilitation of Frisco Elementary School.

The biggest and priciest project will be the middle school renovation, which will include the demolition and rebuilding of most of the older sections of the school.

The district has estimated the construction costs for all the projects to total $30-35 million.

How can the district pay such a bill while proposing to lower taxes? It needs the blessing of voters on a new taxation proposal.

Currently, a voter-approved mill levy provides the cash for a special building, maintenance and technology fund, which keeps millions of dollars in Summit County classrooms. Funds from the mill levy paid for the construction of the new Silverthorne Elementary School on a cash basis, without borrowing.

The mill levy is set to expire next year.

The school board is proposing a new mill levy at a lower rate to continue funding maintenance and technology.

Then, board members hope to fund the new construction projects by issuing 20-year bonds, which will also require voter approval.

Compared to the current level of taxation, homeowners would pay about $25 to $100 less each year, and businesses could pay hundreds or thousands of dollars less under the proposed scenario.

The difference is that the lesser annual costs would recur for 20 years because borrowing means interest payments that total up to 90 percent of the amount borrowed.

If the voters don’t approve the proposal, taxes would drop even further, but that could be real bad news for the middle school’s ailing roof.

“These items are all out on the table for consideration,” Huenneke said, “but it’s not a done deal. We’re asking the community to provide further input and bring the ideas to the board.”

Huenneke, Superintendent Lynn Spampinato and at least two school board members will attend each forum. The district’s architectural and financial consultants also will be on hand to answer questions.

“We’ll present information about the studies we’ve been doing and what needs we’ve identified at the facilities,” Huenneke said. “Lynn will be there to summarize the educational improvements addressed through the facilities.”

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 203 or

School district community forums:

Tuesday, March 23, Summit High School

Thursday, March 25, Summit Middle School

Tuesday, March 30, Silverthorne Elementary

Wednesday, March 31, Breckenridge Elementary

Wednesday, April 14, Keystone Conference Center

All forums start at 6 p.m.

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