It has been almost 20 years since School District 9-R went from school to school to improve the educational environment for its students with about $80 million in voter-approved funding. All schools and thus all students benefited; it was money very well spent.
It is time, two decades later, to apply the same attention to the district’s physical needs. Voters should vote Yes this November to continue the 5.776 mill levy that makes improved classroom and technology possible.
Note that the district is not asking for a new mill levy, or one that is higher. This Yes vote will continue the mill levy that homeowners have been paying. That represents about $166 on a $400,000 residence.
Miller Middle School, dated in its layout and construction, will consume about $40 million of the new bond issue’s estimated $90 million. Miller will be scraped off and rebuilt to reflect 2020’s learning needs. Miller’s core was built in the 1960s.
A new technology center, to impart technology skills for job fulfillment, will be located just to the northwest of Durango High School in what is now a grassy but only lightly used park.
Pueblo Community College recently relocated from Camino del Rio to an unneeded and isolated wing of the high school. With a new tech center easily accessible to students and to non-students, the district is stepping up its desire to provide present and future oriented job skills in technology.
Charter schools, an important part of Durango’s educational offerings and that are encouraged by 9-R, are included in the bonding. Animas High School will receive funding to be used to help construct its new building on the Fort Lewis College campus. Animas recently received a state BEST grant for a major portion of the cost.
Technology: All of 9-R’s schools will receive additions and upgrades.
In addition, many of the district’s school buses are overdue for replacement; that will be taken care of.
Everyone agrees that first of all it is talented and effective teachers who nurture good student learning. But educational settings, properly sized and equipped and, in this time, made safe, are critical for learning. Proper facilities make good teachers and good students even better.
The Herald’s editorial board urges a Yes vote to establish a new round of bonding with no change in the mill levy to support School District’s 9-R’s facilities. Two years with multiple meetings of administrators, teachers and parents have produced a list of priorities that could likely move the district through the next 20 years. That will be good for 9-R and for the Durango community.