Summit School District receives voter approval on mill levy, bond measure

Kevin Fixler
Summit School District director of communications Julie McCluskie mans the laptop as election results trickled in Tuesday evening. Superintendent Kerry Buhler, left, and school board president Margaret Carlson, right, look on with smiles after 3A and 3B were approved by county voters.
Ben Trollinger / |

Summit County voters resoundingly approved two school ballot measures Tuesday that will provide the local district more than $70 million in taxpayer funding beginning early next year.

With more than 15,400 votes counted on each question, voters pass 3A by 58 percent and 3B by nearly 60 percent.

“Tonight’s election results prove what we’ve always known — Summit County residents value a high-quality public education system,” Superintendent Kerry Buhler said in a news release. “These dollars will help us address building deficiencies, overcrowding in classrooms and further our goals for innovative instructional technology that ensures every student is well prepared for the demands of the 21st century.”

“This local taxpayer investment allows the district to take care of critical maintenance and facility needs without impacting the instructional resources needed to ensure that Summit continues to be one of the strongest school district in the state,” Margaret Carlson, board president, added in the release.

The Summit School Board recommended election questions 3A and 3B for the ballot in August, with the stipulation that the bulk of the new reserves, $68.9 million, be spent toward existing building improvements and repairs. The annual funds from 3A, a mill levy — expected to generate $1.8 million annually with no sunset, will similarly go toward capital construction projects and maintenance, in addition to preserving district-wide technology expenses.

The bond account, 3B, meanwhile, will need to be disbursed during the coming three years, and are planned for extra classroom and cafeteria spaces at both the middle and high schools. A new gym is also under considerations at the high school — each to contend with approaching overcrowding for which the district is already preparing. The terms of the bond allow a payback period over the next 20 years.

Both 3A and 3B received sweeping endorsements from a myriad of broad-based community organizations in the build up to the election. Among them, the Board of County Commissioners, towns of Breckenridge and Frisco, The Summit Foundation and the Family & Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC) and the region’s ski areas, Vail Resorts, Arapahoe Basin and Copper Mountain Resort. (The Summit Daily News also formally endorsed the school funding initiatives.) Local businesses throughout the county offered an outpouring of support as well, including Breckenridge Grand Vacations, which posted a $10,000 community challenge grant that it matched after fundraising for the Yes on 3A & 3B campaign hit that target amount.

A majority of those dollars went toward messaging to potential voters in the form of postcards and mailers ahead of Election Day, in addition to yard signs, and print and radio advertisements. While the towns of Dillon and Silverthorne chose not to officialize a position on the two school funding measures, Dillon Mayor Kevin Burns did formally back the campaign. A structured objection to 3A and 3B never organized in the community.

Leadership from the Summit School District, including Buhler and most of its Board of Education attended a watch party Tuesday night hosted at Elevate CoSpace in Frisco. Business cofounder Amy Kemp served as committee chair for the district’s campaign, designated Citizens for Strong Summit Schools.

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