Durango School District 9-R teachers, staff, students and parents will wear red on Friday in support of educators gathered at the Capitol in Denver rallying for public education funding.
“This is serious, and people are coming out and they want to see changes in the way public education is funded,” said Mark Walser, a music teacher at three Durango schools.
Colorado ranks 46th in the country for teacher salaries, according to a school district news release. But funding for schools across the state could be increased if Initiative 93 makes the Colorado ballot in November and voters approve it.
If passed, 9-R could see almost an additional $300 in per-student funding, said Julie Popp, Durango District 9-R spokeswoman.
Voters recently approved a mill levy for 9-R, which allowed the district to increase starting teacher salaries to $40,000. But other rural districts have not seen the same increases.
“A lot of the rural districts in southwestern Colorado are really struggling, especially the ones that have been unable to pass mill levies,” Walser said.
Teachers in Republican states across the nation have pushed for higher funding and seen some success this year, which has helped energize the movement for greater public education funding in Colorado, he said.
Popp expects strong participation in the Red for Ed event on Friday.
There will also be a rally to support public school funding from 4 to 5 p.m. Friday at Buckley Park. Light refreshments will be served.
More than 10,000 educators rallied around the Colorado Capitol on Thursday, many using personal time to attend.
They chanted, “Education is our right” and “We’re not gonna take it anymore” and drew honks from passing cars.
Rallies will continue Friday. About half of all Colorado students will see their schools shuttered over two days.
firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Associated Press contributed to this report.