Durango School District 9-R and Bayfield School District felt the love from their communities Tuesday when their requests for financial support were approved, although Bayfield’s vote was a nail-biter.
Durango’s 3A mill levy override measure passed with 63 percent of the vote. The tax increase, which will be collected for the first time in 2017 property taxes, will bring in an additional $1.7 million to the district’s coffers and will be shared with Durango’s two charter schools, Animas High and Mountain Middle, on a per pupil basis.
“I’m relieved and excited and so grateful the community backed our initiative,” said Naomi Azulai, chairwoman of the Stronger Schools Stronger Community 3A campaign committee. “We had the backings of hundreds of people, and we used Facebook, we had a website, we ran radio ads, we wrote letters to the editor and we canvassed every weekend.”
Monies raised will be spent to ensure safe, effective, innovative learning environments and infrastructure; prepare students for the workforce or college by giving schools the ability to create individualized learning; help maintain class sizes; and maintain the ability to attract, retain and train high quality staff.
“I wanted us to win with a margin in the 60s,” 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger said. “This way, I feel we have the strong support of the community including the number of voters who don’t have children in our schools.”
Snowberger and his staff will draft a five-year plan for the district that will include 3A monies, and it will be presented in draft form to the school board in December. The district won’t plan to spend the funds until the 2017-2018 school year, because the bulk won’t be collected until late spring, he said.
Planning for Bayfield’s new elementary school for grades third through fifth will begin immediately with approval of the $28.6 million bond measure. The unofficial final tally showed it with 52 percent of the vote. The funds will also pay for upgrades to the current elementary school, so primary students in grades kindergarten through second can move in, with both planned to be ready for classes when school starts in 2018.
“I was maybe a little surprised it was so close, but a win is a win,” said Amy Lyons, director of finance for the Bayfield district. “We’re ready to move on.”