Election Headquarters: Pueblo County District 70 asks for money to “improve every school”

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PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. — Pueblo County School District 70 is asking voters to approve a 75 million dollar bond, without creating new taxes.

In 2012, the District passed a mill levy increase that the district hopes voters will extend in Issue 4A.

“You want to pass a mill or a bond within every five, ten years maximum to be able to sustain, to grow, to provide,” said Roxane Pignanelli, the district’s coordinator for government and community affairs.

The bond money would pay for the most pressing needs at every school in the district, Pignanelli said. It starts with some larger projects, but ultimately every school in the district will get the top few most pressing problems funded if 4A passes.

The projects range from $4,800 for improvements to thse windows at Craver Middle School to $4.7 million for a group of projects at Pleasant View Middle School, which would match the Building Excellent Schools Today, or B.E.S.T grant, funded by the state’s marijuana tax revenue. The second highest total on the list of over 100 projects is $4.1 million classroom addition at Cedar Ridge Middle School, according to the district’s list of projects that would be funded by 4A.

“We’re not building entire additions but there are so many little items that can be very dangerous to children and need to be improved,” Pignanelli explained.

Many schools that need it will get HVAC replacements and every school will get air purification system upgrades, a project sped up by the pandemic to improve ventilation and air filtration.

There are several foundation repairs to elementary schools, improving parking lots Pignanelli says have damaged cars at high schools, and general improvements to several aging buildings on the list as well.

“These kinds of improvements can add to the life of a building,” Pignanelli said. “Tearing buildings down and building new buildings isn’t necessarily the most economic way to spend the voters’ money.”

The district has received a lot of questions, as described on its website, about asking for more money during a pandemic when some people may be financially stressed. Pignanelli said 4A doesn’t increase the tax burden people are already paying and believes it could be a boost for a pandemic-stressed economy.

“If we do the work now and we infuse 75 million dollars worth of stimulus money, a package we inevitably won’t get anywhere, we plan to hire as locally as we can,” Pinanelli said.

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