District looking for answers after failure of bond, MLO 

Dazed in D-11

click to enlarge D-11's Nick Gledich remains upbeat. - COURTESY COLORADO SPRINGS SCHOOL DISTRICT 11
  • Courtesy Colorado Springs School District 11
  • D-11's Nick Gledich remains upbeat.

Nick Gledich is frank.

"We're disappointed," the Colorado Springs School District 11 superintendent says of the failure of both a D-11 mill levy override (MLO) and a bond issue on the Nov. 8 ballot.

One can imagine why. D-11 hadn't asked voters for money in more than a decade, and the district put time and energy into ensuring it was asking in the best way possible. Over the past two years, D-11 put together its "Vision 2030" plan with lots of public input. The plan identified and prioritized needs, and contained a detailed spending plan for money collected from the $32.6 million permanent MLO and $235 million bond issue.

The average cost to homeowners for both was expected to be about $10 per month to start, going up to $20 a month over 15 to 20 years. The money would have paid for many basic upgrades to aging buildings like new plumbing, roofs, boilers and windows; upgrades to security systems; and more key staff like nurses and teachers.

Now the district faces dealing with all those issues without additional funding.

"When something bad happens to you, you have three choices," Gledich told the Indy. "One, you let it define you. Two, you let it destroy you. Or three, you let it strengthen you. And the district's position is we're going to let the outcome of the election strengthen us."

Following the losses, D-11 sent out a letter to voters, stating it respected the results. It asked voters to tell the district what part of the plan they didn't like. D-11's taking comments — anonymous or otherwise — at tinyurl.com/d11-feedback.

Gledich says responses show that some voters did not understand the impacts on their pocketbooks or why the increases were needed — despite extensive outreach to community groups and media. Some also seemed dismayed the district didn't campaign for the questions, which is illegal.

That said, Gledich says he thinks the Board of Education may simply ask for the MLO and bond issue again next November, perhaps with a few tweaks and more outreach. These outcomes, after all, were close. The MLO, 3C, had the support of nearly 49 percent of voters, while the bond, 3D, got nearly 48 percent. A lot of people have emailed the district since then, saying they support D-11 or they appreciate the professional response to the loss, Gledich says.

He adds that he really hopes voters will weigh in and convey what can be done to make the questions more palatable. But he also knows the district faces challenges. Chief among them: Nearly 80 percent of D-11 households don't include kids.

Gledich, however, is upbeat. He recalls one email from a woman without children who voted for both the MLO and bond. She was so disappointed that she wanted to give to a nonprofit that would support STEM opportunities for D-11 girls.

"That was very cool," Gledich says. "That was a great way to end the day."

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