FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
On March 3, 2020, community members will vote on Phase II of a project to address facilities needs in the Denver Community School District. The question on the ballot will ask voters to approve a $17 million project, with $7.75 million in General Obligation bonds for a new middle school/high school addition to the Cyclone Center. Approving the project would not increase property taxes.
Below are answers to frequently asked questions regarding Phase II and the upcoming vote:
What are the school district’s facility needs?
The Denver Community School District’s enrollment growth has led to some notable capacity challenges. For example:
The district’s last available classroom is now being used for first grade.
An elementary computer lab has been transitioned to a special education room for two teachers.
A speech pathologist is working from what used to be closet space.
A counselor moved to a smaller office to make space for special education.
Robotics is in a former weight room to free up classroom space elsewhere.
By acting now, the board believes we can address these needs and complete the updates and renovations that will ensure Denver schools continue to provide excellent learning environments for students now and in the years to come.
Why does the district have these facility needs?
Enrollment in the Denver Community School District is up 5 percent in the past year, reflecting a trend dating back several years. Student enrollment is up 15.3 percent over the past five years, and projections show nearly 100 more students attending our schools by September 2022.
In addition, more young families are choosing to call Denver home. Over the past 10 years, 116 new homes have been built in our district, which has added $39 million to our property tax base.
Growth is good, but it has led to capacity and facility challenges in our schools. Right now, we are occupying the last available dedicated classroom. Our Board of Education will soon vote to move administrative offices off campus to convert those spaces into additional classrooms. In the past year, we added eight new positions and will soon hire more staff to keep up with enrollment growth.
Would property taxes go up if the bond is approved?
No. The Board of Education has been diligent about keeping the levy for Phase I—the Cyclone Center—at $2.70 per every $1,000 of assessed property value. That would not change with the upcoming vote. Instead, if voters approve Phase II in March 2020, Denver will move forward with a new middle school/high school by taking its current debt and extending it six more years (from 2036 to 2042).
How would the project be financed?
This project, known as Phase II, would come at a total price tag of $17 million. It would be funded through the following sources:
GO Bonds: $7.75 million
SAVE (state penny sales tax): $7 million
PPEL/SAVE cash: $2.1 million
PPEL: $1.5 million
What happens if we do nothing?
An alternative option to Phase II would be to install temporary trailers, which come at a cost of $200,000 to $300,000. They would also presenting disruptions and safety concerns. To that end, district leaders and board members do not believe temporary trailers present a good option to address our facilities needs.
How would the current site be repurposed?
The current site will be used as soon as the new high school/middle school is occupied. Elementary classrooms will expand into the current middle school and high school immediately. Administrative offices and space for additional programming would also move into the existing building.
Will the public still be able to use the Cyclone Center space if we add classrooms there?
The Board of Education is committed to maintaining public access to the walking track, exercise equipment and weight room. However, it will require some modification of the existing entrances to maintain a safe and secure environment for students.
Why don't we just build new classrooms on the current site?
The board analyzed this option as it worked to address the district’s capacity needs. Ultimately, the board determined adding new classrooms to the current site to be a band-aid approach, as the site is no longer suited for 21st century learning. In addition, the board felt that safety and security would be compromised by adding more students to a single campus.