At some point, I look forward to addressing the community about the plethora of resources that exist in the district and gaining insight on ways we can best invest them in our students, our future.
In the meantime, we continue to wrestle with challenging scenarios in public school funding that will require a true partnership with our community.
It’s easy to sit back and make assumptions about spending or waste and not help find solutions that will ensure that our schools are all that we want them to be for our children. We’ve been fortunate in this district to have past school board members who recognized that the economic cycle is real and that recessions occur. In 2010, the district was fortunate to have a reserve that prevented drastic cuts and permitted it to engage in deficit spending while the economy recovered. While minor cuts were made, in no way did the district decimate programs as many districts were forced to across the state. That reserve is quickly being depleted.
With the constitutional conflict that exists in Colorado between Amendment 23, which attempted to address public school funding shortages, and the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, set to restrain the growth of spending in the state, public school funding may be as good as it gets at this point in time with no resolution on the horizon.
Next week, the district is holding two budget information sessions for community members interested in providing input on district priorities in the upcoming budget season. The first round of sessions will be held on Tuesday at Escalante Middle School and Jan. 21 at Miller Middle School. The format for both sessions will be identical, and they will begin at 6 p.m.
At this first round of meetings, I will provide a high altitude look at our revenue and expense challenges, which will be followed by five different breakout sessions for participants to provide a deeper dive into aspects of our budget. These sessions will include information about the funding formula; capital needs; salaries and benefits; spending for student supports; and curriculum and assessment investment. After these breakout sessions, participants will take part in a question-and-answer session with the school board about designating priorities in the upcoming budget year.
Options do exist for the district to seek additional local funding from taxpayers and will be considered in the near future. Having a deep understanding of our financial situation and receiving input from our community will help our board make wise decisions as it considers such options in the future.
I encourage residents, both parents and community members alike, to take part in this important discussion. This is our district and these are our students – the future of our community. Ensuring that they have the best education possible is of utmost importance to all of us – both parents and non-parents alike.
Email Durango School District 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger at DSnowberger@durango.k12.co.us.