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Weld County School Districts Stand Out on Safety, Fiscal Sanity, Sound Policy

It’s pretty rare to see a geographically-themed post like this one here. While Weld County has become a focus for some about a debate to secede and create a 51st state, more interesting to me is a series of stories that set apart a number of the county’s school districts.

The 12 school districts in northern Colorado’s mostly rural Weld County rank it second in the state to El Paso County, which has 15 different districts. Stealing the headlines a couple days ago was Weld Re-10J, better known as Briggsdale School, for adopting a student safety plan that includes enabling teachers and other staff to carry concealed firearms on school property.

About 9 months ago I told you about the defeat of Senate Bill 9, which “would have allowed school boards to authorize carrying of concealed weapons in schools.” Apparently, Briggsdale has found a loophole that the Dolores County School District devised earlier this year. Don’t ask how or why: I’m too little.

Interestingly, Briggsdale is one of 20 mostly rural school districts that legislative analysts have determined will lose money per student if Amendment 66 passes and SB 213 is adopted. Yet it was one of their neighboring districts — Weld Re-9 (aka Ault-Highland) — that last week adopted a resolution opposing the billion-dollar statewide tax increase. (Many others have adopted an official neutral stance, but until last week Douglas County was the only known school board to stand against Amendment 66.)

A couple of the Wherefores the Ault-Highland school board cited to make its resolution are particularly interesting:

  • “despite the fact that the Board of Education agrees with the premise of reforming the School Finance Act and the financial inequities it produces, Amendment 66 fails to adequately resolve those inequities, and actually worsens them”; AND
  • “weighing all of these serious shortcomings in Amendment 66 and mindful that a $1.05 Billion tax increase would have a negative effect on the local and state economy, and to the Weld Re-9 School district.”

Quite a striking contrast to the misleading pro-66 fliers being passed around a much more populous part of Weld County: Greeley. Given what I pointed out a couple weeks ago, the Re-9 Board also could have mentioned “taxpayers all across the rest of Weld County will be turning over more of their hard-earned funds to low-performing [Greeley] District 6″ as a justification. But they already had enough to make their case.

October has been notable for a couple smaller Weld County districts, but a third district also distinguished itself a few months earlier by becoming the latest to stop collecting union dues. Better to take a neutral stance towards political entities, avoid potential conflicts of interest, and focus on the district’s core educational mission.

One district taking a responsible, rational approach to school safety; another district standing up against an unfair and overpriced tax hike “for the kids”; and a third refusing to serve as middleman for a private organization’s political agenda. Oh, how I hope to see these three districts become less of a distinction and more of a trend!