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Tax measures fare poorly

Update Nov. 6: The Mapleton results were still uncertain because the vote totals were so close that election officials will have to count provisional ballots to determine a final count. Depending on the outcome of that process, a full recount may be necessary.

(Vote total charts are at the bottom of this story.)

Greeley school leaders Tuesday night conceded defeat in their bid for a $16 million mill levy override, while the Mapleton district’s proposed bond issue and override were headed to defeat.

Some tax measures in a few small districts around the state were passing.

In Jefferson County, two school board incumbents, including the president, were defeated.

Mapleton this year sought a $30.2 million bond issue to match state Build Excellent Schools Today funds for a massive renovation of the district’s Skyline campus and a $1.9 million mill levy override. District voters turned down mill levy requests in 2007 and 2008 and haven’t approved a bond issue since 1992.

“We are obviously so disappointed. The voter turnout was surprisingly low and it is difficult to lose by such narrow margins,” said Mapleton spokesman Damon Brown.

“We are now in the tough position of coming up with a 41 percent match [for the BEST funds] by the end of year, or risk losing the $32 million dollar grant entirely,” he added.

In the Greeley/Evans district the school board, backed by a well-financed coalition of business and civic interests, proposed an override of $16 million. Supporters argued it was needed to maintain and improve district programs and raise district per-pupil spending from 170th out of 178 districts in the state. Both were defeated by wide margins.

“We’d obviously hoped for a better outcome,” said Roger Fiedler, district spokesman. “This was the first time ever that Greeley/Evans had a mill levy proposal. There was a little bit of challenge there,” he noted, adding, “We knew going in that the current economy would be a challenge for us. That certainly weighed on voters’ minds.”

Fiedler said, “We’re going to keep plugging away, doing the best we can. … It just becomes a little tougher now.”

(Background story on the two districts’ requests.)

Last year nearly 40 Colorado school districts proposed bond issues and/or property tax overrides, but several were defeated in large districts. Far fewer were proposed this year, partly because of the economy.

In Jefferson County, three of five board seats were on the ballot this year. In District 1, newly appointed board member Robin Johnson was unopposed and won. In District 2, board president Sue Marinelli was defeated by challenger Laura Boggs, a businesswoman and active district volunteer. In District 5, Richard Rush, appointed to the board last year, fell to civic activist Paula Noonan, who received substantial support from teachers’ unions.

Only three of the Boulder Valley school board’s seven seats were up for election this year. In District B board vice president Lesley Smith easily defeated challenger John Ketting, a retired scientific instrument maker. The District E seat was open, and Tom Miers, an engineer at Ball Aerospace, edged out Jim Pollicita, a consultant and retired CU administrator.

The District F seat also was open, and Jennie Belval, a district gifted and talented advisor, ran well ahead of Louise Benson, a semi-retired doctor from Broomfield. Belval has been a close associate of term-limited board member Jean Paxton, who had represented that district.

In the Greeley board races (four of seven seats were up), incumbent Douglas Lidiak was running fifth and expected to lose his seat. But, other incumbents Judy Kron and Linda Trimberger were in first and second, followed by Brett Reese and Doug Kershaw.

Some other school board incumbents lost their seats in districts along the Front Range. Valeria Espinosa-Martinez lost to Kristi Crisman in Brighton District 2, and Doreen Christian lost to Sally Daigle in Sheridan District C.

It was a relatively quiet election for major-district school boards around the state. The following districts either cancelled elections or had too few contested races to make a significant impact on board composition: Aurora, Adams 12, Brighton, Cherry Creek, Colorado Springs 11, Commerce City, Littleton, Mapleton, Mesa, Poudre, Pueblo City, Thompson, St. Vrain Valley and Westminster. (Check Gazette.com for reports on board races in the Pikes Peak region.)

Among other tax measures on the ballot around the state were:

• Park County School District RE-2 – Issue 3A, a $16 million bond issue to be matched by BEST funds: Passed.

• Silverton Public School – Issue 3A, a $1.2 million bond issue: Passed.

• Weld Re-7 Schools (Platte Valley) – Issue 3A, a $1.9 million mill levy override, and Issue 3B, $7.7 million bond issue: Both were passing.

• East Grand District 2 – Issue 3B, a $300,000 mill levy override for technology. Defeated.

• West Grand District – Issue 3A a $419,000 mill levy override for technology. Defeated.

Click here for other stories about Election 2009.

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