The city of Pueblo remains a four high school city. Tuesday, voters in Pueblo voted to approve a $218 million bond that would replace Pueblo East and Centennial High Schools with brand new buildings.
As of Wednesday evening, 56% of voters in Pueblo approved the bond. The final tally -- with so few votes left to count -- is looking good for D60.
“This is possibly the most important day our school district has ever had,” said Dalton Sprouse, a District 60 spokesperson.
The bond raises property taxes from residential and commercial property owners within District 60. If a home is valued at $100,000, the owners will now have to pay around $78 annually more on their property taxes.
Commercial property owners will pay nearly four times more.
Here’s what Puebloans are buying: Two new buildings with room for 1,000 students each at East and Centennial High Schools, infrastructure improvements in nearly all district buildings, and security upgrades.
“This vote of confidence from the community demonstrates their commitment to education for future generations," said Sprouse. "We're excited to get to work in all the projects this bond puts in place.”
“We were all nervous to see the results, especially when it's such a big deal for Pueblo,” said Maya Maes-Johnson, a Senior at Pueblo Centennial High School.
Maes-Johnson has been campaigning for a bond for months. 2019 was her first chance to vote as an 18-year old.
“Pueblo is really important to me, and I don’t want to leave Pueblo for college without having some idea that there is going to be good here for the future," she said.
The next step for the district is picking an advisory board related to the bond. As of now, District 60 plans to build the new schools on the same property as the current buildings. It’s not entirely clear how that will work, but KRDO is told the district will start drawing up designs for both high schools as soon as possible.
On the other side of the coin, the bid for a Pueblo jail came up short. As of Wednesday evening's results, more than 65% of voters in the county turned down a sales tax increase to build a new jailhouse out in the county.
This is the third time since 2015 that voters in Pueblo County voted down a bid to build a new jail.
The problems with this jail are well documented. The Pueblo County jail is the most overcrowded jail in the state, and the Sheriff’s Office claims its infrastructure is deteriorating. That makes for unsafe working conditions for Sheriff's deputies.
Sheriff Kirk Taylor spoke with the media at a press conference Wednesday. Taylor says he was prepared for voters to turn down a sales tax increase, but believes the need is so great that it had to be on the ballot.
“Maintenance on this jail currently runs close to a million dollars a year. So it’s literally a money pit," said Taylor. "However, the voters have spoken and we have to respect that. Commissioners are going to have some real challenges ahead of them with regards to financing. I don’t know what the numbers are. I don’t know where we lost but we got crushed."
Although ballot initiative 1A failed to pass, ballot initiative 1B, a marijuana sales tax increase, passed with 54% of the vote. Taylor says those funds could go towards a new jail or help keep the current jail operational.
However, the sheriff says this means that those funds that were meant for Pueblo County non-profits may not head that way any more.
Taylor says he is looking for new avenues to fund a new jailhouse. One possibility is to bypass voter approval and work with the city to bond for a new facility.