LPS’ facilities are aging and require attention to maintain safety and excellence
Part of the Board’s commitment is also to maintain safe and comfortable environments for teaching and learning and doing so as efficiently as possible. LPS currently has 27 facilities. The average age of these facilities is 50 years! The list of needs is long every year, but there was only enough funding for the most critical $1.5 million in safety needs, mainly in the areas of air quality, roofing, flooring, fire alarms, and concrete repair, even though many more critical needs were identified. The capital projects fund is projected to be depleted by school year 2015–2016.
Opportunity to gain additional funding with no tax rate increase
From time to time, the Littleton Public Schools Board of Education calls together a group of community members to review the district’s facilities, look for ways to extend the life of district schools, improve the learning environment for students and plan for student needs in the future.
In the spring of 2013, a Capital Improvement Planning Committee made up of volunteers with a wide range of perspectives representing parents, community members, charter schools, and school and district leaders began meeting to review the district’s facilities and to determine what infrastructure needs may be required now and in the future. This committee will meet through the summer and will report its findings to the LPS Board of Education in the next few months.
Some of the issues the Committee is focusing on include:
- Maintaining our tradition of academic excellence - LPS has a tradition of academic excellence and continues to be one of the top achieving school districts in the Denver metro area. It’s our responsibility to maintain this tradition by providing safe buildings and secure environments for our children to learn. It’s good for our students, and it’s good for the community, as the value of our homes is increased by the excellent reputation of our schools.
- Keeping up with our aging schools – LPS schools are on average 50 years old! Just as furnaces roofs, electrical systems, and plumbing have to be repaired and upgraded in older homes, they must be maintained in older schools, as well. Doing so keeps our schools safe, comfortable places in which to teach and learn in the 21st century. That’s good for kids.
- Providing a 21st Century education today for the jobs of tomorrow- LPS offers hands-on opportunities in Science, Technology Engineering, and Math, referred to as STEM, in EVERY school, not just some schools. It is part of the district’s priority for a well-rounded education for all students. Jobs of the 21st century require these skills, and it’s our responsibility to make sure we can provide even more STEM opportunities to students.
Doesn’t the state have a plan to address these structural needs in its schools?
NO. The state of Colorado is still trying to recover from the national economic downturn, which caused its resources to drop to historically low levels. Because LPS receives about 60 percent of its funding from the state, the level to which LPS has been affected in the last five years is unprecedented. State government is NOT coming up with solutions to budget problems that have meant hundreds of millions in cuts for Colorado schools. We need to come up with our own solutions to ensure that our schools are properly maintained and are providing the learning environment we want for our children.
What are our options?
The LPS Board of Education has identified two options: either continue to address a fraction of the necessary costly repairs to our schools every year as the budget allows, or take advantage of low interest rates and the opporunity to gain additional funding so that costly, major repairs and systems replacements can be addressed now.
Can these needs be addressed without raising taxes?
YES!!! Littleton Public Schools is considering a bond election in November 2013 to authorize the sale of $80 million in bonds. It’s important to know that there would be NO tax increase. Rather, the district would take advantage of our current economy and lower interest rates to get the most out of taxpayer dollars.
The district previously refinanced to take advantage of lower interest rates, which saved txpayers millions in interest. As a result, the district now has the opportunity to gain additional funding to make improvements to its community's schools without increasing the tax rate. This funding would ensure our school buildings can be maintained and continue to be safe, comfortable places in which to teach and learn in the 21st century.
Taking advantage of this opportunity would allow LPS to address costly, major repairs and system replacements in our schools such as boilers, roofs, plumbing, windows, and electrical systems. This important work extends the life of our schools and other facilities and improves the learning environment for students in ways this community has said is most important.
When will a decision be made?
The Board of Education will hear a report from the Capital Improvement Planning Committee in the summer of 2013, which will help inform its decision. The Board also continues to examine the implications of both options as well as feedback it receives from the community and the district Financial Advisory Committee. The Board is likely to make a decision in the next few months whether or not this is the right time to ask voters for their permission to take advantage of the opportunity to gain an additional $80 million in funding for facilities needs without an increase in the tax rate.