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Tax measures falter in two of three northern Colorado school districts, according to early returns

Tax measures in the Greeley and Thompson school districts appeared headed toward failure Tuesday while at least one of two tax measures in the Poudre district appeared likely to pass, according to early returns.

Nearly 58 percent of Poudre voters included in the first round of results voted yes on the mill levy override, which will pay for extra support staff, technology and equipment. The vote was nearly tied on a second measure, a $375 million bond to pay for school construction and upgrades.

District spokesperson Danielle Clark said leaders were cautiously optimistic about the two measures, but it was too early to tell for sure. She said the final results may not be available till Wednesday.

In the Thompson district, both a $288 million bond and a mill levy override were losing about 55 percent to 45 percent after the first round of returns. The two measures would have paid for new schools, repairs to existing schools, teacher pay increases and new busses and textbooks.

Colorado Votes 2016 | For more live coverage and results click here.Leaders of the committee to pass the bond and mill levy override were discouraged by the apparent sound defeat. Stacee Kersley, committee manager, said the failure of the two tax measures will have big ripple effects in the district.

She predicted that class sizes will grow, school boundaries will change and Thompson teachers will leave for higher pay in neighboring districts.

While Kersley said she was surprised by the mill levy’s loss in particular, she noted that several other non-school tax measures were also failing in Loveland.

“Loveland is a very conservative community,” she said.

While Greeley’s mill levy override also appeared likely to lose, with 53.5 % of voters against the measure in early returns, district spokeswoman Theresa Myers said district officials planned to wait for additional vote tallies.

“We’re still kind of in limbo,” she said.

The mill levy override would have paid for salary increase for teachers and other staff, new buses and security upgrades.

This was a record year for school tax measures across Colorado, with 44 districts asking voters to approve a combined $4.4 billion in the face of state education funding that has been slow to recover from the Great Recession.

Both Greeley and Thompson also failed to pass mill levy overrides during the recession, though Greeley was able to pass a tiny $8 million bond in 2012. Poudre, benefitting from a more affluent and school-friendly voter base, did get both a bond and mill levy override approved in 2010.

Map of bond election results.