"We'll be able to serve so many of our children, a great percentage of our children with this one project," Sheridan Schools Superintendent Michael Clough said.
Like many smaller districts around Colorado, Sheridan is hoping voters pass it's ballot question, because that would lead to a pool of more money in the form of a BEST Grant. The Building Excellent Schools Today program takes revenue from land owned by the state and left over funds from the Colorado State Lottery to help school district with construction issues.
In Sheridan, if voters pass the $6.5 million bond issue, the BEST Program will give the district an additional $23 million to construct a new facility that will have a grades 3 through 5 school share a campus with a grades 6 through 8 middle school.
"This is really a golden opportunity for the Sheridan community," Clough said. "Our tax base does not allow us to raise enough mils to build this type of school."
Sheridan is like a lot of small towns. There is not enough money in the town to generate enough taxes, especially when most of the families in Sheridan are lower income.
"The board was really cognizant of the fact that it is tough," Clough said.
But, Clough says the district has no choice. Fort Logan Elementary was originally constructed in 1923. It was last renovated in 1972. Clough and the school's building engineer, Steve Merchant, say it is simply time for a new school.
"It's just old. It's an old building," Merchant said. "You can put Band Aids on it all day long, but you're not going to fix the situation."
Merchant says when it rains hard, water rushes into the basement and hallways like a waterfall. He says the ventilation system and infrastructure are crumbling. And, he says the school has mold issues growing in the walls and sub-floors.
"It was about 40 years of water flooding this," Merchant said. "Everything was so rotten."
For some residents, however, the building problems are not enough for their property taxes to go up.
"I don't think they should do it at all," Sheridan resident John Heldenbrand said. "Raised them enough already, too much."
Clough says, if passed, the property taxes on an average home in Sheridan would increase only about $26 for the year. But, residents like Colleen Tatum, who lives on a fixed income, says any increase is unaffordable.
"It's going be a lot of money. We already pay taxes here and we pay plenty of taxes," Tatum said. "We're already taxed - food, property, car, everything."
This is the second year in a row Sheridan has asked voters for a property tax increase. Last year's proposal failed.
"Yeah, I'm nervous," Clough said.
He knows that asking residents for a tax increase during a slow economy is difficult. But, Clough says the district can't afford to not have this bond issue pass.
"It's a chance that we fear will not come back if we don't get it now," Clough said.
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