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Boulder Valley School District school board talks budget, future capital construction bond issue

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The Boulder Valley school board heard updates on a potential capital construction bond issue and next school year’s budget at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

For the possible bond issue, the district is considering asking voters in November to approve a bond issue in the $376 million range — smaller than the district’s last bond issue. The final amount would depend on what projects are included.

Boulder Valley’s last capital construction bond issue totaled $576.5 million and was approved by voters in 2014. The final amount grew to $677 million from bond sale premiums, rebates and interest earnings.

The district also asked a 23-member committee to discuss proposed project priorities.

The committee generally supported the district’s priorities, which include a new $27.7 million building for New Vista High School, a new $31.5 million school to relieve overcrowding at Meadowlark School, about $28 million for improvements to support expanded career and technical education offerings, and about $128 million to address pressing building needs.

Other priorities include $5.5 million for accessibility improvements to playgrounds, along with $25.7 million to modernize classrooms with furniture and fixtures. The bond calculations also include $47.9 million to cover a 15% inflation rate, $73.6 million for overhead costs and $9.2 million for reserves.

Next steps include reviewing opinion poll data and getting a recommendation from the superintendent at the June 14 board meeting. If the school board decides to proceed, the board would vote on the final critical needs list and ballot language in August.

The board didn’t request any changes to the proposed $430 million general fund budget, which includes spending about $425 million. Highlights include spending an additional $17 million for employee compensation; $12.5 million for school staffing, programs and student support; and $4.3 million for facility improvements, custodial services and maintenance.

The district plans to use about $14 million of its $16 million beginning general fund balance on one-time expenses. The budget includes $2 million in one-time money to provide targeted staffing support to elementary schools with declining enrollment, as well as $2 million to hire additional staff members at schools districtwide where class sizes end up larger than expected in the fall.

One-time money plans also include $2.5 million to replace aging FOSS science kits, $1.1 million to hire five half-time high school coordinators for the Grad Plus plan, and $1.7 million in “seed money” to hire more teachers over three years to expand career and technical education options.

Other budget expenditures include $1.7 million for two portable buildings to relieve overcrowding at Erie’s Meadowlark School and $1.4 million to cover food inflation costs.

The board meeting started with a moment of silence for the victims of Tuesday’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Texas that left at least 19 students and two adults dead. The suspect also died at the scene.

School board member Lisa Sweeney-Miran also issued a call to action, asking people to contact “every lawmaker” and demand that they not accept campaign contributions from the gun lobby and pass “real gun control measures.”

She noted other countries with stricter gun control laws don’t have mass shooting after mass shooting, saying there’s not a secret formula to preventing gun violence.

“It’s something our representatives choose,” she said. “They choose money and guns over children.”

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