Message from the Superintendent 6/24/21

Last month, we received the exciting news that the opportunity to create the future and attend to Manitou Springs School District’s (MSSD) aging facilities would be supported by Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grants worth $9 million. With this funding secured, the MSSD Board of Education declared their support for moving forward with a financing plan that may result in putting a $43 million bond package on the November 2021 ballot. This package is aligned with the comprehensive master plan that was finalized earlier this year and includes generating the 65 percent in matching funding ($16.5 million) required to receive the BEST grants. The board will take official action to refer a bond question to the ballot on August 30, 2021. In the meantime, we want to take this opportunity to share a few more details with you.

What is in the $43 million bond package?

The bond package is focused on four key investments:

1.  New and remodeled middle school/high school campus facilities.
2.  Funding for improvements, safety enhancements, and educational upgrades at Manitou Springs High School, Manitou Springs Elementary School, and Ute Pass Elementary School.
3.  Investments in outdoor facilities, where students can safely learn, train, and play.
4.  Projects that will maintain valuable amenities accessible to our entire community including the renovation of the historic Manitou Springs Elementary School auditorium and improvements and upgrades to school playgrounds and athletic fields districtwide.

A full list of projects and associated costs can be viewed on our website at www.mssd14.org/potential_bond_2021.

As a reminder, these investments were identified as part of a six-month master planning process that prioritized MSSD facility improvement projects. This collaborative process included the school board, executive team, visioning team, staff, students, and community members and involved an analysis of the existing conditions of facilities and their educational adequacy.

What is the cost to taxpayers?

The bonds from the 2002 election were paid off in 2020. The estimated tax impact of a $43 million bond is approximately $38 per month on a $300K home or $13 per month per $100K in residential property. The tax impact for commercial property owners is about four times more than residential property (approximately $52 per month per $100K in commercial property).

What does a new and remodeled middle school/high school campus facility entail?

The planned modifications to our middle school/high school campus are primarily logistical—we will still have two distinct schools located on one campus. As soon as January 2024, district offices will relocate down the hill to the lower campus building (current middle school), which will also house other district administrative functions. At the same time, the middle school will relocate up the hill to an expanded SILC building, while continuing to use the athletic facilities in the lower building.

The construction of a new middle school is a significantly better long-term investment than renovating the current building for continued educational use. The cost of renovating this facility to meet modern educational standards is comparable to constructing a new school and the benefit to taxpayers of a new construction is far greater, as it will provide a school that will serve generations of Manitou middle school students far into the future. While the current building would no longer be used as a school, it will remain a district and community asset, housing administrative functions and providing essential space for popular school robotics, Partners for Healthy Choices (clothing closet and food pantry), Connect14, and intergenerational programs and activities.

Why is this investment needed?

The most recent improvements to our schools were completed in 1988 and 2002. This 2021 comprehensive bond package will enable us to address maintenance concerns that have continually been deferred and safety and security issues. It will also allow for innovative educational programs and the spaces necessary for us to prepare our students for their futures.

We are unable to address these issues within our budget due, in part, to the state’s budget stabilization factor, which has resulted in $16 million in lost funding for MSSD over the past 11 years. We simply do not have the money to attend to our facility issues or provide the matching funds required by BEST without our voters approving a bond initiative.




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