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 an $18 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 make 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. That's more than 10 homes per year. Our community also currently has more than 50 lots available, with many purchased already for 2020 construction.
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 has voted 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 March vote for a new middle school/high school. Voters will be asked to approve $7.75 million in General Obligation Bonds, which would take the current $2.70 tax levy approved for Cyclone Center and extend it for six more years (from 2036 to 2042).
Learn more about the tax impact of the bond.
How would the project be financed?
This project, known as Phase II, would come at a total price tag of $18 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 present disruptions and safety concerns while reducing parking and site access. 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, allowing for expanded programming thanks to greater access to science rooms, labs, breakout spaces and science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) spaces.
Additionally, the district's early learning program, Discoveries, currently has a waiting list. By providing more space to Discoveries, the district could grow that important program for our young people.
In all, the current site provides the flexibility needed for the district to expand programs at nearly all grade levels.
What would the new middle school/high school look like?
While conceptual drawings are still in draft form, the district and board want to give community members as accurate a depiction as possible of what a new middle/high school building would look like. These drawings have been shared at our informational meetings.
If the project is approved on March 3, a design team will move forward with more detailed plans for the Board of Education's review. The board would need to approve all designs before construction can begin.
It is common for the design phase to take some time—perhaps up to a year. This is to make sure the building we would be constructing meets students' needs and makes the very most of the dollars invested in it.
Will improvements need to be made at the current site if the middle/high school is moved?
The school district is setting aside funds as part of its general budget to take care of the current middle/high school building to keep the existing classrooms functioning as flexible education spaces well into the future.
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. It will require continued coordination between the hours of operation for the public and school activities. The second floor of Cyclone Center is self-contained and could function as a workout space without giving the public access to the rest of the school.
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. The current infrastructure at the existing K-12 site has reached its limit for number of students with respect to cafeteria size, kitchen size, corridor sizes, parking and site access. In addition, the board felt that safety and security would be compromised by adding more students to a single campus.