Bond Extension to Update School Bldgs

DURANGO SCHOOL DISTRICT 9-R HAS CUT SPENDING FOR THE 20-21 SCHOOL YEAR BY MORE THAN $4 MILLION, BUT IT ALSO INTENDS TO ASK VOTERS TO EXTEND ITS BONDING CAPACITY TO INVEST IN SCHOOL MAINTENANCE PROJECTS DISTRICTWIDE AND TO REPLACE TO AGING SCHOOLS. YOU’RE WATCHING THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK, BROUGHT TO YOU BY WHOLE HEALTH FAMILY MEDICINE. I’M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE. DURANGO SCHOOL DISTRICT 9-R IS EXPECTED TO LOSE MORE THAN $6 MILLION IN REVENUES AS A RESULT OF COVID-RELATED STATE BUDGET CUTS AND AN ANTICIPATED DECLINE IN ENFOLLMENT OF ABOUT 200 STUDENTS. WHILE IT RECEIVED $2.6 MILLION IN FEDERAL COVID-RELIEF FUNDS, IT STILL HAS BEEN FORCED TO CUT $4 MILLLION FROM ITS BUDGET THIS YEAR. DURANGO SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT DAN SNOWBERGER SAID THE DISTRICT WAS ABLE TO MAINTAIN TEACHER SALARIES, ALTHOUGH THEY WON’T RECEIVE RAISES THIS YEAR, AND NO SCHOOL STAFF WILL BE FURLOUGHED. THE DISTRICT CUT 10 PERCENT FROM CENTRAL OPERATING BUDGETS AND 5 PERCENT FROM SCHOOL DISCRETIONARY BUDGETS. IT INSTITUTED A HIRING FREEZE, CUT CENTRAL OFFICE STAFF BY NEARLY HALF FROM 31 TO 17 POSITIONS, AND CENTRAL OFFICE EMPLOYEES ARE EACH TAKING FIVE DAYS WITHOUT PAY.
IN THE END, KEEPING CUTS AS FAR AWAY FROM KIDS AS POSSIBLE WAS OUR, OUR PRIORITY. AT THIS POINT WE’RE AT 17 AND A HALF POSITIONS IN CENTRAL OFFICE. WE LOST OUR DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT. WE LOST OUR DIRECTOR OF CURRICULUM. THOSE POSITIONS ARE NOT BEING REFILLED EITHER. RIGHT NOW.SNOWBERGER SAID THAT THE DISTRICT HAD STARTED CUTTING BUDGETS BEFORE THE COVID CRISIS HIT BECAUSE IT HAD HOPED TO RAISE TEACHER AND STAFF SALARIES IN 20-21, AND TO DO SO, IT NEEDED TO CUT OTHER EXPENSES. THE DISTRICT ALSO IS EXPERIENCING ENROLLMENT DECLINES, AND AS A RESULT, IT CUT NINE TEACHING POSITIONS.WE HAD OUR DEMOGRAPHER WHO, WHO, WHO REALLY ASSURED US THAT NO, WE ARE IN A PATTERN, BECAUSE OF THE COST OF LIVING IN DURANGO, THAT WE WILL SEE YOUNGER FAMILIES MIGRATE AWAY, AND FAMILIES WITH OLDER CHILDREN MIGRATE IN. AND SO WE, WE’RE IN THIS UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCE OF GROWTH AT THE SECONDARY AND DECLINE AT THE ELEMENTARY. CHANGING STUDENT DEMOGRAPHICS WAS THE STARTING POINT FOR A TWO-YEAR, FACILITIES MASTER PLANNING PROJECT TO ADDRESS CURRENT MAINTENANCE AND FUTURE INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS, AND AS A RESULT OF THAT WORK, THE DISTRICT PLANS TO ASK VOTERS TO EXTEND ITS BONDING CAPACITY FROM A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE PASSED IN 2002. THAT BOND REFERENDUM RAISED $84 MILLION AND WAS USED TO UPDATE AND EXPAND ALL SCHOOLS IN THE DISTRICT AND TO REPLACE RIVERVIEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL ON SITE. THE BOND-EXTENSION MEASURE IS EXPECTED TO BE ON THE NOVEMBER BALLOT. ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT ANDY BURNS SAID THE DISTRICT IS SPENDING A LITTLE MORE THAN A MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR ON MAINTENANCE, BUT AGING DISTRICT BUILDINGS NEED CLOSER TO 6 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR IN WORK. EXTENDING THE BOND ANOTHER TWENTY YEARS WOULD RAISE ABOUT 80 TO 90 MILLION DOLLARS OVER THE LIFE OF THE BOND WITHOUT RAISING TAXES.
THOSE BOND DOLLARS ARE BEING PAID OFF RIGHT NOW. IF YOU THINK OF IT AS A MORTGAGE, WE’RE ABOUT TO PAY OFF OUR MORTGAGE. AND SO WE CAN GO TO OUR VOTERS AND ASK FOR THEM TO EXTEND THAT MILL LEVY RATE THAT WOULD NOT INCREASE TAXES, BUT JUST CONTINUE THE EXACT SAME, SAME MILL LEVY. SO AS IT RELATES TO YOUR MILL LEVY FOR SCHOOL TAXES, THE DOLLAR AMOUNT WOULD NOT INCREASE, BUT IT WOULD ALLOW US TO GENERATE ABOUT $90 MILLION IN BOND PROCEEDS THAT WOULD HELP US ADDRESS CAPITAL PROJECTS, SAFETY AND SECURITY NEEDS, TECHNOLOGY NEEDS, TRANSPORTATION NEEDS AND A, A REBUILD OF MILLER MIDDLE SCHOOL, WHICH, MILLER, MY TWO CHILDREN WENT THROUGH MILLER, IS DEFINITELY IN A SITUATION THAT WE NEED TO MAKE SURE IT’S A SAFE AND INNOVATIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR OUR KIDS. AND IT DEFINITELY NEEDS SOME TLC RIGHT NOW.THE FACILITIES MASTER PLAN RECOMMENDS THAT THE BOND REVENUES BE USED TO MAKE SECURITY, TECHNOLOGY AND ENERGY-EFFICIENCY INVESTMENTS IN ALL THE SCHOOLS, REPLACE MILLER MIDDLE SCHOOL ON SITE, AND BUILD A NEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AT THREE SPRINGS TO REPLACE FLORIDA ELEMENTARY. THE MASTER PLAN ALSO RECOMMENDS THAT THE DISTRICT SELL THE ADMINISTRATION BUILDING ON 12TH STREET AND RELOCATE TO THE FLORIDA MESA ELEMENTARY BUILDING. THE MASTER PLAN ANALYSIS INDICATES THAT MOST SCHOOLS ARE OPERATING AT 80 PERCENT CAPACITY WHILE SEVERAL SMALLER  ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS ARE OPERATING WELL BELOW CAPACITY.IF YOU’D LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE DISTRICT BUDGET OR THE FACILITIES MASTER PLAN, VISIT THE DISTRICT’S WEB SITE AT DURANGO SCHOOLS DOT ORG. THANKS FOR WATCHING THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK. I’M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE.

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