5A, 5B winning after days of uncertainty

After days of counting and waiting, the fate of Jeffco Schools’ mill and bond is nearly resolved and both 5A and 5B are winning.

Voters approved 5A, a $33 million mill levy override with approximately 55 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, the fate of the $567 million bond also looked positive, with the We Are Jeffco campaign reporting that 5B was winning by 1286 votes as of Sunday evening. That number includes all ballots received by the county clerk’s office by election day, but does not include overseas or military ballots that can be received until  Nov. 14.

“I am extremely grateful to the Jeffco community for passing 5A,” said We Are Jeffco campaign co-chair Jim Earley. “We now have an opportunity to attract and retain the best teachers with more competitive salaries, provide our students with much needed social and emotional supports, and additional resources to prepare them for the 21st century.”

“I also can’t thank the hundreds of community members who generously donated time and money to this campaign enough,” Earley added. “They are the heart of this community, and define what it means to be We Are Jeffco.”

5A, 5B to fund improvements to make Jeffco “ready, safe, and competitive”

Issue 5A will provide an additional $33 million in ongoing funding to Jeffco Schools. The district said the funds will be shared on a per-pupil basis with charter schools. Money for district and option schools will be allocated as follows:
Courtesy Jeffco Public Schools. Used with permission.

Issue 5B will fund major capital maintenance and new construction throughout the district. This includes:

  • Building a new career and technical education site — a Warren Tech South — in south Jeffco
  • Building two new elementary schools to address growth in central Lakewood and northwest Arvada
  • Constructing additions at seven elementary schools and seven middle schools
  • Replacing three school buildings
  • Increasing school safety and security at every school with more secure entrances, window safety film, and classroom door locks
  • Repairs and renovation projects at schools throughout the district
  • $56 million for charter schools

The Jeffco Schools website provides detailed information about improvements at each school as part of its six-year capital improvement plan.

“At this point we are confident 5A, the mill levy increase that will support our annual budget — including fair compensation for our teachers, expanded career/technical education, and improved school mental health supports — has passed, said Jeffco School Superintendent Jason Glass. “We are also optimistic about 5B, the bond program that will enable us to make much needed repairs and updates to our schools. 5B is ahead at the moment, but the results are not yet final.”

“Together, these ballot questions will dramatically improve opportunities for students in Jeffco and we are incredibly grateful for this support from our community,” Glass added.

“Issue 5B will provide the district with the funds needed to complete projects at all schools across Jeffco,” said We Are Jeffco co-chair Kay Slater. “Safety and security issues can finally be addressed and our students can look forward to updated learning environments geared toward 21st century learners.”

“With the passage of both 5A and 5B, Jeffco students can expect to attend schools that are truly ready, safe and competitive,” Slater said.

Large voter turnout slowed 5A, 5B ballot results

When early ballot return tallies were released on election night, 5A was winning with about 52 percent of the vote, while 5B trailed behind with about 48 percent of the vote. However, the early returns only accounted for just under 240,000 ballots — a little under 50 percent of eligible voters.

We Are Jeffco campaign volunteers watch early campaign results on election night. Photo by Lisa Cook.

In fact, more than 70 percent of registered Jeffco voters submitted ballots — many of them on election day. By Wednesday night, the margin had narrowed. 5B was trailing by only 132 votes, with thousands more ballots waiting to be counted.

The Jeffco County Clerk’s office did not finish counting those ballots until after 11 pm on Nov. 9. When those results were posted, 5B was winning with 148,488 yes votes compared to 147,318 no votes. Some Broomfield County precincts are also part of the Jeffco Schools district. With the Broomfield votes, the margin increased to 149,900 yes votes vs. 148,614 no votes.

Yes votes for 5A also continued to increase, growing from Tuesday night’s total of 127,147 yes votes to 112,169 no votes. Friday’s update — including the Broomfield ballots — increased that to 54 percent approval (164,627 yes votes to 135,351 no votes).

Close mill, bond elections common in Jeffco

It’s not the first time Jeffco Schools has seen a tight race in a mill and bond election. Five previous school mill or bond elections passed or failed by tiny margins.

In 1999, voters approved a $25 million mill levy override by 1,313 votes (60,854 to 59,541).

The vote tally was even tighter in 1989, when a mill and bond narrowly lost by 64 votes and 441 votes, respectively (34,207 to 34,271; 33,305 to 33,746).

In 1975, another bond lost by 155 votes (15,793 to 15,948).

The pattern holds true even for 1960-era bonds to build new schools in the midst of the Baby Boom. In 1966, a bond won by 917 votes (10,193 to 9,276). And in 1960, a bond narrowly won by 200 votes (6,356 to 6,156).

The county clerk will accept overseas and military ballots as well as ballots flagged for signature or ID issues through Nov. 14. The clerk’s office will post final vote tallies after that date.

Lisa Cook

Lisa Cook

Lisa Cook, Ph.D., is a writer, editor, musicologist and Jeffco resident since 1999 with two children attending Jeffco Schools. Lisa earned a BA from Valparaiso University, a Masters in Music from Colorado State University, and her Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. When not working, she can be found running (ideally on mountain trails) with Midnight, her miniature poodle. Please visit our "About Us" page to learn more about Lisa and our other writers.