Arguably all times are pivotal and important, but today’s time has us all reeling. The sheer speed with which information travels is remarkable. It is more important today than ever to take action to insure a quality education for our children.
The Telluride R1 Board of Education has been on task in the past seven years of my tenure collectively evaluating, presenting and receiving feedback from a strong core of regional stakeholders to help maintain the excellence we have come to expect, and to keep the vision alive and strong for our children’s future.
Coming to you this Nov. 4 is a plan that is grounded in substance with forward thinking and sustainability. The Telluride Board of Education is asking voters to approve an $18 million bond. Each piece of this bond represents an element of our strategies for a sustainable future.
The addition of eight classrooms, the bulk of the 3A question, addresses conservative projected growth in student enrollment, while seeking to maintain the best learning environment we can achieve. Our growth is from the “bottom up,” with more kindergartners enrolled each year. The out-of-district students comprise a small percentage of our enrollment. Out-of-district students come with funding at the full per pupil rate and are distributed throughout our K12 system. The acceptance or admission of an out-of-district student is based on a state statute of “open enrollment.” The district can only deny admittance by making decisions based on the enrollment of each grade level. For example, if the grade level is full, only in-district students are admitted.
Our schools are used by a variety of community entities, and so they should be. This allows all of us to stretch the regional tax dollar for the benefit of our region.
The district’s support of our preschool program, Telluride Early Childhood Center (TECC), addresses the needs of some of the most at risk children and is supported with state dollars. It is the Colorado Pre-School Program which gives children with developmental disabilities help to jump start their education and succeed in coming years. The TECC program is located in two rooms at Telluride Elementary School and is funded by a state grant and tuition. The program serves many minority children who need the English Language services in order to arrive at kindergarten ready to learn. This helps to ensure that each dollar we spend as a district has positive implications in other aspects of educating all of our students.
The renovation of our historic gem, the Telluride Elementary School, makes it more green and more sustainable with repairs (new boiler, new roof and ventilation for the upper floor), and makes good sense. The district’s capital reserves are dedicated to repairs and maintenance. The replacement of the roof is a major capital improvement which requires permission from you, the voters, for bonding.
The board is asking for the capital upgrades along with the classroom addition, out of respect for the fact that we will not be back in front of you for several years.
The 3A bond question includes a renovation to the middle/high school which is necessary to expand core areas for the additional students. Upgrades will include our school kitchen which was built over 10 years ago for half of the present student population. We recognize the need to keep our older children on campus and offer them healthy alternatives. Our community has asked us for years to consider placing a garden in our curriculum. Adding a greenhouse on to a science classroom has incredible potential in teaching children about sustainability. It is also a part of our local history. The Telluride region has a strong history in sustaining small communities at a time when running to the local grocer (or Montrose) was not an option.
Our vision of bringing our students into the realm of 21st century learning is thoroughly enhanced by making further commitment to our technology. Technology upgrades will include school security and our phone systems. An upgrade to an interactive digital platform will widen our ability to communicate globally, which is not only exciting but mindboggling when you think what our students could learn from discussion with students in China, an important author in their time or even the opportunity to question a legislator in Washington, D.C., right in their classroom. When we raise the level of learning for our students, our teachers and our community, we in turn become a better society. The commitment to new dollars to the technology component is a means to address other issues as well: expanding our curriculum with online learning, and addressing diverse learning styles.
The affordable housing component starts the wheels of our self-perpetuating fund for a quality Teacher Housing Fund. A housing fund that is able to address the current and future needs of our teachers. This strategy helps to stretch the regional tax dollar, and provide some relief to the regional affordable housing issue. Affordable housing will give our teachers the ability to be part of this community. This fact alone will bring benefits to the entire community.
Your board of education is asking for your support on this ballot question which reflects the changing times and growing values of our community. We ask that you recognize that we are building the future for our children and our community. We understand the rocky times that we as a nation we are facing. A vote YES on 3A will build a strong foundation for the future of all our children.
Please get out and vote!
Please support the future of all of our children.