The Johnstown-Milliken community is facing a public education crisis. A perfect storm fueled by a growing community, near-capacity or oversubscribed and aging school facilities, and a persistent lag in student achievement have all fallen upon our school board and district administrators. An in-depth, multi-year analysis of the facilities and enrollment pressures has led to the reasonable conclusion that increased tax revenue is needed to address the problems.
A 2019 bond package has been proposed for the community that would replace the oldest school facilities and relieve overcrowding pressures in the short term. In addition to the bond request, a mill-levy override is proposed to fund programs and incentives to increase program offerings and student achievement. The total revenue generated from the bond issuance and mill-levy override could approach $150 million. Future tax increases would be necessary to replace the high school and other buildings, sometime in the 2020’s.
There is another approach as well, using tools made available to parents through Colorado law. We are applying for a contract with the Johnstown-Milliken RE-5J School District to open a new public charter school that will serve grades 6-12 in the Johnstown-Milliken area. Charter schools are non-profit, tuition-free public schools created by groups of parents to bring alternative or improved school choice to their community. Charter schools, like Knowledge Quest Academy in Milliken, are free from most district rules regarding curriculum, schedule of operation, restrictive teacher licensing requirements, multi-level decision making, and more.
Charter schools do not rely on local bond initiatives pay for new school buildings, they use revenue from the state of Colorado, which is called the per-pupil revenue or PPR. We wish the school district administration well in their efforts to improve the districts buildings and services, but we are not constrained by the results of the bond election. We can build a new middle/high school for the Johnstown-Milliken community with no additional taxes whatsoever.
Our charter school, CIVICA Colorado College and Career Academies, can deliver high school graduates prepared for careers or college in the industries that make up more than half of the private sector jobs in Weld County – Health Services, Manufacturing, Oil and Gas Exploration and Recovery, Agriculture, Construction, etc. Other career paths could include Education, Cyber-Security, Criminal Justice, and more.
We chose to build a College and Career Academy middle/high school because of our personal histories in this community, our concern about the direction and state of our schools, and our love for all of the students in RE-5J. CIVICA Colorado will help keep our farms, industries, and community strong by preparing college-bound graduates with real-life experience and career-bound workers the skills and certificates they need to thrive.
We are building a school that provides Project Based Learning (PBL), which means students are doing what they are learning. Future machinists and mechanical engineers will have experience welding and operating CNC machines. Future framers, electricians, and architects will have helped with building homes; and our next-generation’s farmers and agronomists will have spent time behind the wheel of a combine.
Join us in making CIVICA Colorado a reality for our children!