The news has been inundated with stories about the financial status of the district and its desire to engage the community.
While the school board certainly has opportunities to turn to voters for more revenues, board members want to ensure that it would be done with strong community support and understanding of how the district currently is using its resources. We continue to watch our Legislature as it deals with Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights caps, the K-12 funding dilemma and allocation of state funds for this coming year. In essence, all options are on the table.
I’m very proud of what Durango 9-R is able to provide students in preparation for success. While we want every student to have the option of pursuing a college education, we also recognize that students need to be ready for the possibility of entering the workforce with skills and abilities that will support their success.
As the budget has declined over the past few years, we have seen an erosion of elective offerings attributed to finances and attracting staff. We’ve also seen an increase in class size – albeit minimal compared with other districts in the state – and a reduction in programs that can challenge our highest achievers. The real question is, are we satisfied with that?
As programs were trimmed over the past several years, the original outlook was short term. Now that the future of school finance and funding is so bleak along with the likelihood of the state funding the $4.8 million per year due to 9-R, the question is, where do we go from here?
The feedback from community members who have participated in the budget meetings so far will be used to formulate a proposal that will take in both current revenues, as well as opportunities for the district to seek voter approval for additional investment in our schools.
We will present these plans at two upcoming sessions: from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Escalante Middle School and from 6 to 8 p.m. March 17 at Miller Middle School.
We are planning an event in April for business leaders that will provide an opportunity for broader feedback from this part of our community. We appreciate the help of our Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Alliance in working with us to plan this event. Knowing that businesses in our communities can be affected by local voter initiatives at around 3.5 times more than local residents, we want to make sure we take their needs into account as well.
Instead of sitting on the sidelines and assuming good or bad intentions on the part of district leaders, I hope you will choose to become engaged in the conversation. The real intent is to provide the community with the details of the situation and work together to move our district forward the way we all want to see it thrive.
Please get involved and stay up to date on the latest about budget at www.durangoschools.org.
Email Durango School District 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger at DSnowberger@durango.k12.co.us.