Updated Potential Bond Information

Updated Potential Bond Information
Posted on 08/05/2021
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Planning for the future. Weld RE-4’s enrollment has already increased by 800 students over last year and we are enrolling more students every day. As a growing district, we are always looking ahead to how we can best serve our students. When we passed our last bond in 2016 to renovate Windsor High School and build Severance High School (SHS), we knew elementary and middle schools would need to be the focus of a 2020 bond; however, with the uncertainty that came with the pandemic, we postponed asking the community for additional support at that time. In 2021, with a new demographic report showing enrollment growth even higher than initially projected, we restarted the process. We talked to people across the community about our plans for a bond, which were widely met with agreement—as our community grows, so too must the capacity of our schools.
An emerging public safety concern. In addition to meeting with community groups and families, we discussed our plans in detail with town and public safety (fire and police) officials. In these conversations, a growing concern emerged regarding our plans to expand Windsor Middle School (WMS) on its 13-acre site on Main Street and the resulting public safety risk and increased traffic congestion that would accompany the addition of over 200 students to the campus. This question was posed: Is Main Street, where WMS was built 95 years ago, the right location for our students long term?
Partnering for a solution. We asked town and public safety officials to partner with us in coming up with a solution that would prioritize the safety of our students and the public. What resulted was an opportunity that did not exist a year ago. In partnership with the Town of Windsor, our district has the opportunity to purchase (with cash-in-lieu) land in northwest Windsor—less than three miles from the current WMS site—where a new 900-student WMS building could open as early as the fall of 2024. The previously proposed rebuild of WMS would have significantly impacted the middle school experience through completion of construction in 2025. The new 40-acre site (Severance Middle School (SMS) also sits on 40-acres) will be adjacent to land that will be developed by the Town of Windsor over time, with plans for a new police station and a park with playfields managed by Windsor’s Parks and Recreation Department. 
Revising our plans. In addition to the new WMS building, the proposed bond package will still include two new elementary schools, the expansion of SMS, a new Career and Technical Education building at SHS, and facility investments in all schools. The proposed bond package investment is $179 million and the cost to taxpayers is an additional $7.50 per month, per $100K of residential property value. Therefore, on a $450K home, property taxes would increase by $33 a month. 
New elementary school building rendering
Listening to our community. Regarding a bond, as we have said all along, we will only ask for what we need. The concerns raised by the town and public safety officials prompted us to reconsider the WMS project. While changing plans this close to the election is not ideal, it reflects our genuine efforts as a district to use all the information and expertise at our disposal to guide us, as well as our commitment to listen to you and our community and to incorporate your feedback.
Stewarding taxpayer money. Pursuing a new school building for WMS means forfeiting $9 million in Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) funding (19 percent of the total cost of the WMS rebuild). Due to the February 2021 deadline for the BEST application, we submitted prior to finalizing our bond package. As our taxpayers would have been responsible for the lion’s share (81 percent) of the total project cost, forfeiting BEST funding and building a new school is ultimately the best long-term investment of taxpayer dollars, as continuing to invest in the current middle school isn’t in the communities best interest. 
What’s next? The Board of Education will vote on referring this bond package to the ballot on August 30. We will be forming a citizens’ committee that will meet this fall to discuss future plans for the WMS Main Street site should the November 2021 bond pass and the school be relocated in 2024. In addition, we will host community meetings over the next two months to share more information and answer questions about the plans for a new WMS.
Thank you. I want to take this opportunity to thank members of our community for taking the time to provide their feedback, push our thinking, and help shape our path forward.