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Jefferson, Douglas County schools make final push for funding before election

DENVER -- Colorado's second- and third-largest school districts are making a final push to voters before they decide on tax-hike measures this Tuesday.

Jefferson and Douglas County School Districts are asking voters to approve millions of dollars in bond measures and mill levy overrides, hoping to generate extra money for school repairs.

On Friday, both districts invited cameras inside rundown schools, showing leaking ceilings, torn-up carpets and other issues that needed attention.

"We have plumbing issues. We have issues with the roof, issues with the carpeting, issues with the doors," says Douglas County High School Principal Tony Kappas. "The list is long."

Douglas County is asking for a $250 million bond measure and a $40 million mill levy override.

"It's real simple. It's for the kids. What we are most concerned about is giving these kids what they deserve," says Kappas.

On the west side of the metro area in Jefferson County, officials are requesting even more money than those in Douglas County. They are asking voters to pass a $567 million bond measure and a $33 million mill levy override.

"We have great things going on inside our school, so I need a facility that makes it look that way," says Jefferson High School Principal Michael James.

James showed us torn-up chairs, broken water fountains and damage to outdoor recreational fields.

"We get foul-smelling sewage that comes up through the floors near the bathrooms. It's just not fair to our students," said James.

But both requests could face an uphill battle in counties where tax increases for school funding have been defeated in the past.

"How do you ask taxpayers for nearly $1 billion when $150 million of that goes into interest payments we shouldn't have to make?" says Jefferson County parent Laura Boggs.

Boggs says borrowing that much money isn't the answer. She says the districts need to look at administration costs before asking the voters to foot the bill.

"It's going to cost our taxpayers over the next 20 years $1 billion. Read your ballot. That's the bottom line. It is not a cheap way out. What it is, is a guarantee they're going to have to come back to us and ask for even more money because they don't take care of all of the highest needs in our schools," she says.

5A and 5B will be up to the voters to decide on Election Day, Nov. 6.

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