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Why does our Award Winning School need more money?

Five years of State cuts to our operating budget totaling $1.5M ($300k/year) have resulted in reduced staffi ng, course offerings, supplies, and morale while increasing staff duties and responsibilities. Reversing this trend is essential to maintain the quality of our school.

What is a Mill Levy Override (MLO) and how will it affect my taxes?

A MLO vote is required by Colorado law to increase, or override, current property taxes. The school is asking for an additional $300,000 per year for ten years, which translates to approximately a five mill increase in the real estate tax rate. For example, using figures from the County Assessor, a single family residence with an actual value of $326,830 has an assessed value of $23,531 and a current tax of $1,068. With the MLO, the tax would be $118 higher. A 100% commercial property with an actual value of $551,010 has an assessed value of $159,790 and a current tax of $8,727. With the MLO, the tax would be $799 higher.

How can I find out how the increase will impact my own property?

Find your assessed value on your tax bill or on the Ouray County Assessor’s web page

Multiply that by $0.005 and you will get the increase.

Why a ten year sunset?

Our administration is part of a statewide effort working with our legislature to provide more state funding for K-12 education. Since this involves the State Constitution and a spider web of associated laws this will take time. We hope that in ten years the state will rightfully provide added funding, reducing the need for local communities to bear the large burden of educating our children.

What did the school do with the money it received for a bond in 2014?

Using the bond money and the matching BEST grant we received, our main building is now leak free, in code compliance, beautiful and updated for 21st century learning. By law, these funds can only be used for the main building. None can be used to pay for the actual operation of the school or for the students.

What about the marijuana money, where does it go?

By State law, no marijuana tax money can go to our operating budget. It can only be used statewide for grants for school construction and drug prevention programs.

Why are you asking for money if you have reserves available that you are not using for real needs?

Each year that the state has underfunded our District we have had to dip into our reserves to fund our education programs. We have ongoing discussions as to the proper level of reserves to keep our building open and operating in the event of unforeseen circumstances. We are now within the level of reserves which “best practices” groups recommend. The MLO will support our ongoing “real” needs.

Specifically, what will the additional money be used for?

The additional money that the MLO will provide will be used to restore needed resources that have been eliminated over the past five years, to fund resources and facility needs that develop over the next ten years.

Examples include:

  • Restore teaching staff for needed but eliminated positions.
  • Restore counseling position to provide assistance to students on career choices and social/emotional issues.
  • Provide school supplies to students, often paid out of teachers’ pockets.
  • Reinstate staff professional development to better instruct 21st century course offerings.
  • Improve the technology throughout the school to enable better instruction and student preparation for the post-graduate world.
  • Perform ongoing repairs to the gym building (now over 50 years old) and facility maintenance throughout the site. 

What happens if this Mill Levy Override does not pass?

Without the MLO, the school will have to continue to shrink its course offerings, risk failing to meet the social and emotional needs of students and reduce opportunities for students to participate in educational trips that broaden their horizons beyond our small community. Without the MLO individualized instruction, which has made our school one of the top schools in the state and nation, will be weakened. Without the MLO, our school, and community, will be at a disadvantage to other districts and communities.

To keep Ouray aglow, vote YES on the MLO!


• Colorado Department of Education, Accredited with Distinction 2010-2017

• John Irwin Schools of Excellence

• US News and World Report Bronze

• Governors Distinguished Improvement Award

• Colorado Succeeds Award—2017

•Top five Elementary School in Colorado

Recent Ouray Graduates

• USMA- West Point

• University of Colorado, Boulder

• University of Colorado, Denver

• Arizona State University

• Colorado State University

• Colorado Mesa University

• Creighton University

• Paralympic Games/Sochi, Snowboarding

• Colorado School of Mines

• California Polytechnic State University

• Navy SEALs • Denver University

• Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

• Amherst College

• University of Kansas


Mill Levy Override Ballot Issue Statement


OFFICIAL GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT FOR OURAY COUNTY, COLORADO – NOVEMBER 7, 2017. Ouray County School District R-1 Referendum Shall Ouray School District (Ouray R-1) taxes be increased annually by $300,000 in each of tax collection years 2018 through 2027 inclusive, and shall such amount be increased each year beginning with tax collection year 2019 by an amount necessary to offset inflation as measured by the Denver-BoulderGreeley Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U), with such tax used to replace reduced funding from the State to the District and thereby provide funds to:


• Restore and enhance needed course offerings and resources for individualized education;

• Continue to provide a safe and healthy environment for learning by addressing developing needs; and

• Reinstate professional development to train the staff for improved teaching methodology and newly developed curricula;


by an additional property tax mill levy at a rate sufficient to produce the amounts specified above, which shall be in addition to the property taxes that otherwise would be levied by the District and shall be deposited into the District General Fund; and shall the District be authorized to collect, retain and spend all revenues from such taxes and the earnings from the investment of such revenues as a voter approved revenue change and an exception to the limits which would otherwise apply under Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution or any other law?


A Message from your Ouray School Board…

 Our award winning school is the heart of our community. It provides a best-in-the-state education to our children. Importantly, it also is a magnet for people from all over the country to move their families here, enriching our community and keeping it alive and growing. Over the past five years the school has cut back on course offerings, staff, and teaching resources because the State has underfunded us by $1.5 million. Our remaining staff has continued to provide a quality education by stepping up to the plate and taking on more work, and we have dipped into our cash reserves to provide needed funding. We now need your help to step in where the State has failed. For only the second time in the school’s history, we are asking for a tax increase to provide funding enabling us to continue to have a school that gives each child the education that he or she needs and that keeps our school and community alive. The entire Ouray School Board asks you to vote YES on 3A, the Mill Levy Override ballot issue in this November’s election.


Call Us With Any Questions

Don Mort 325-4308 Jennifer Fedel 325-4802 Kentee Pasek 318-8506 Nicole Skoloda 325-0330 Sandy Kern 325-4234


Ouray School District Fast Facts

• Rated the #1 school district in the country (2015).

• Small classes and dedicated, excellent teachers provide instruction individualized to each student giving them a competitive advantage after graduation.

• Four diploma tracks to address specific student post-graduation goals.

• Seven teacher positions have been eliminated over the past five years due to budget cutbacks.

• ~$500,000 has been taken out of District reserves over the past five years to fund operations.

• Staff compensation has not kept up with inflation over the past decade.

• District administrative staff is smaller than other Western Slope districts.

• Our main school building was given a $7.4 million renovation with a community funded $2.6 million bond which was leveraged to win a $4.8 million state BEST grant for the project. None of this money can be used for operations.

• Renovation bond funded without increase in taxes—replaced maturing bond at same rate.

• Renovation completed on schedule, on budget.