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Dougco reserves ballot space, unclear why

CASTLE ROCK – Douglas County school board members on Thursday approved a resolution holding space on the November ballot but they have yet to give specifics about what they might put before voters.

Board members called a special meeting to vote on the resolution by the state’s legal deadline, which requires them to notify county officials at least 100 days before an election if the district may need ballot space.

But the resolution provided no indication what ballot issues the board might be considering and board members made few public comments in approving the sole item on Thursday’s agenda.

“There are important education reform issues in our school district and these are important to our electorate,” said John Carson, the board’s president, noting the legal deadline. “Any final decision on this question will be made by the board in late August.”

School districts typically go to voters for tax increases or for board member elections. But no board seats are slated to come open this year and the district was unsuccessful in its ballot requests last year for tax increases for operating dollars and building funds.

There’s been no public discussion by Dougco board members, who describe themselves as conservative, about putting those tax questions before voters again this year.

“I don’t think that’s something the board would be interested in,” Carson said after the meeting.

Asked whether a potential ballot question might otherwise involve funding or perhaps a show of support for district reforms such as vouchers, Carson declined to be more specific.

“We’re still deliberating,” he said. “That’s really all there is to say because the board hasn’t made a decision.”

Dougco also is in the midst of overhauling its pay-for-performance program for teachers, among other initiatives.

Thursday’s vote doesn’t require board members to place a question on the ballot – it only guarantees them space if they should decide to do so.

No other board members made comments during the brief meeting. Four board members attended in person – Carson, Craig Richardson, Meghann Silverthorn and Justin Williams – while board members Dan Gerken and Kevin Larsen attended via telephone. Board member Doug Benevento was absent.

A number of large school districts have secured ballot space this fall, including Jefferson County, which is seeking voter approval of a $39 million increase in operating dollars and a $99 million bond issue.

Denver Public Schools board members also are considering tax increases for operating and building needs. They’re scheduled to vote in August on placing those questions before voters in November.