Wednesday (Feb. 8) marks an important night of celebration in Durango.
At 5 p.m. at Fort Lewis College’s Student Union Ballroom, our community will celebrate school choice at the fourth annual Durango Education Fair. I’ve lived in many communities, but nowhere have I been so proud of the educational community. While only about 55,000 residents make up Durango and La Plata County, the educational opportunities are many.
The cooperation that exists between our public and private schools is unprecedented. Add in Fort Lewis College and Southwest Colorado Community College, and this community possesses a recipe for success. Firmly established are systems to educate our next leaders and ensure that students can find the right approach to maximize their learning.
We are fortunate in Durango to not only have 12 schools in 9-R, but two Charter School Institute schools, several faith-based private schools and a couple of private schools. This year, our first online school was opened in partnership with Colorado Connections Academy @ Durango, an online platform for students across our state who will thrive in such a setting. Next year, we will celebrate the opening of an elementary strand at Mountain Middle School as well as a new public charter school sponsored by 9-R, The Juniper School. With the city’s growing population, these choices ensure that we will continue to increase our educational capacity and ease our crowded in-town schools.
Some in our state and our nation fear school choice as a means of weakening public education. It is clear in Durango that choice has caused healthy competition that is causing all boats to rise. Today, education really is about fit and methodology. Our students’ learning needs are as diverse as our community. One size doesn’t fit all. The community clearly indicated its support for this in our recent mill levy override that valued all public school students in Durango, including those who attend our Charter School Institute schools.
Since the embracing of choice in Durango, our public schools have continued to be recognized for higher levels of achievement. Last Friday, our district was notified that three of our elementary schools will be recognized by the state for outstanding growth and performance through the John Irwin and Governor’s Distinguished Improvement awards. Last week, Durango was featured as one of the top school districts for growth in Latino students, multiracial students and graduation rate. Last year, Durango High School was recognized as an Opportunity School (silver level) for its work at closing the achievement gap.
I am proud of the continued work of our staff to build opportunities for our students. I’m also proud of Durango’s educational community being clearly focused on serving our children and ensuring the vibrancy of our community.
The fair offers an opportunity to see our students perform both academically and artistically. Several workshops will be held for parents on topics that include transitioning to kindergarten, middle school and high school; dyslexia; faith in education; and college enrollment/concurrent enrollment opportunities. For more information, visit www.durangoschools.org. We hope to see you at the fair!
Email Durango School District 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger at DSnowberger@durango.k12.co.us.