Student registration is in full swing for a new school year.
I always get excited when the time for that new year has arrived.
I am thankful that each school year has a beginning and end. I revel in the predictable excitement from staff and students for the new year and all the great things to come.
It is a great privilege to work with the teachers and staff in preparation for the students.
The excitement and magic that happens when you are in the room with educators when they talk about student learning is truly magical.
One thing that remains a constant and remains the greatest challenge is the public school funding formula for the state of Colorado.
A new report from EdBuild, a national nonprofit organization, examines neighboring school districts across the United States with the starkest resource disparities.
Because our system relies so heavily on community wealth, this gap reflects both the prosperity divide in our country and the fragmented nature of school district borders, designed to exclude outside students and protect internal advantage.
The report outlines in detail that there is significant disparity between school districts in a particular state/region.
Nationwide, 8.9 million students attend school next door to significantly far better resourced school districts.
The disparity exists especially in Colorado.
In Colorado, the state gives school districts funding, adjusting for district size, cost of living and at-risk students. The amount districts get from the state ranges from approximately $8,000 per student to more than $18,000 per student.
Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1 is one of the lowest funded districts in the state of Colorado. Our district’s funding for 2019-2020 is projected at $8,200 per FTE (full time equivalent) student.
Since the Public School Finance Act of 1994, the Colorado funding structure has not been changed.
Across the state, from state legislators to district school superintendents, we all agree the financing structure needs to change in order to improve education.
This means that our students fall short of having the same opportunities that students in other districts have where the per-pupil funding is greater.
The educators in our district are passionate and dedicated to their students and their students’ well-being and success, continuing to do more with less.
As there continues to be a national teacher shortage and our district continues to compete with neighboring districts for highly qualified teachers, I ask, how do we not only recruit but be able to retain quality teachers for our students and community?
I would like to invite parents/guardians and community members to join me at a forum where we will be discussing the district’s Citizen’s Guide to Funding on Tuesday, Aug. 27 from 5-6 p.m. at the school district office, located at 400 North Elm Street in Cortez.
Lori Haukeness is superintendent of Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1. Reach her at email@example.com.