Negative Factor

Dear Editor:

As members of the community involved with the Archuleta School District 50 Jt. know, over the last few years, we have operated with significantly less resources from the state of Colorado than we were supposed to receive, due to the economic downturn. But, the general public may be completely unaware of the details of this situation so I wanted to share some information with our larger community.

According to the Colorado School Finance Project, lost revenue to our school district through three years of implementation of the Negative Factor, 2011-2012 through 2013-2014 has been $5,087,383. What does that translate to in the schools of Pagosa Springs? In terms of instructional staff who provided direct services to our students, we have eliminated the following: five math specialists, three reading support specialists and a librarian at the elementary school; two reading teachers, a half time art teacher and a physical education teacher at the middle school; one each, English, social studies and math teachers and a librarian at the high school. We have also merged the intermediate and junior high schools, thus eliminating a principal, counselor and secretary. At the district level, we have eliminated a grants manager, a half time gifted and talented coordinator, combined the maintenance and transportation director positions and transferred athletic director responsibilities to the assistant principals at the middle and high schools. We have deferred maintenance and one-time expenses such as the replacement of thirty year old buses. We have eliminated and combined bus routes. We have also dipped into our reserves to an uncomfortable level.

During this same time period, we have implemented the Colorado Academic Standards in ten different subject areas, without the benefit of new instructional materials to support these new much more rigorous standards. We have participated in the pilot of Senate Bill 191 and our principals and teachers have all engaged in rigorous evaluation processes that will assist the state refine and improve the model system. Through the generous support of the Colorado Legacy Foundation, we have been able to provide our secondary teachers with high quality professional development and coaching support in mathematics and English language arts that has helped them to be better teachers and engage students in high quality learning. Our elementary teachers have implemented the mandates of The READ Act, and engaged in grant funded mathematics professional development, thus increasing what they expect of themselves and their students. We have creatively upgraded our technology in order to field test as well as administer the new state assessments. We have replaced the roofs on our elementary and middle schools. We have also produced high school graduates who have received numerous honors including a Boettcher Scholarship, have had one of our teachers recognized as one of People Magazine’s 2013 Teachers of the Year and won the Class 3A Boys Basketball State Championship.

Imagine what we could have done if we had the funding that was withheld from our district.

Linda Reed

This story was posted on March 6, 2014.