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MEEKER I “Money, money, money … all the things I could do if I had a little money.” Who would have ever thought the 1976 lyrics from the legendary Swedish band ABBA would best describe the financial state of Colorado’s public schools in 2016?
In a previous column, I indicated I would share the impact on programs in the Meeker School District directly correlated to reduction in K-12 resources over the past plus or minus 10 years.
Lists of programs and/or resources cut from the Meeker School District during that time were shared with me by school staff.
The collective grouping of those items, while not a completely exhaustive list, is lengthy and includes: full-day kindergarten, part-time counseling services for the elementary school, part-time counseling services for the middle school, two hours of counseling services at the high school, technology education at the elementary school, reduction in technology education at the middle school, elementary school and middle school art programs, the alternative high school for at-risk students, library funds and librarians for middle school and high school, a half-time custodian at the middle school, a full-time custodian at the high school, a full-time high school secretary, a middle school interventionist for at-risk students, funding to purchase athletic uniforms, reduced funding for athletic supplies, a full-time athletic director, two central office positions, funding to update the district’s vehicle fleet and funding for preventative maintenance.
The continues: funding for capital project needs, funding to purchase curriculum materials such as textbooks, funds to purchase classroom supplies for teachers, funds to assist in professional growth for teachers, funds to provide step increases for teacher salaries and high school courses such as physical education, psychology, world history, industrial arts, journalism, college prep English, college prep mathematics, economics, British literature, zoology, botany and a full slate of business courses.
As mentioned, this list, though extensive, is not exhaustive.
The Meeker School District Board of Education has recognized the need to restore some offerings listed above and/or add items never offered or offered on a limited basis.
In order to do this, the school district will intentionally spend a portion of reserve funds. While this is a short-term fix to provide our students with a quality education, it is not the long-term solution to the problem.
Nevertheless, in order to provide a quality education for children in the Meeker School District, programs, positions and/or purchases currently being considered include: full-day kindergarten, an additional fifth grade teacher, a school bus purchase, alternative education for high school students, salary adjustments for staff to keep pace with inflation and work experience, counseling services for the elementary school and middle school, intervention services for at-risk middle school students, additional support for the school district’s libraries, high school business courses, curriculum and professional development needs, and additional custodial positions.
As ABBA stated, “…all the things I could do if I had a little money.”
At some point, in order to provide our students with the education they deserve, we must increase revenues either at a state or local level.
Currently, removing the Hospital Provider Fee from the TABOR limit is one step the state could take to benefit schools This is a temporary fix, but would provide some funds that could be allocated to K-12 education in the short term. Additionally, it appears as if measures may appear on the ballot in November that would free up additional state funds for the benefit of K-12 education. Please advocate with our state representative and senator regarding these measures to help K-12 funding.
In spite of the funding constraints in Colorado and in Meeker, we still have much to celebrate in our community and schools.
Evident truths about the Meeker School District include: we have great kids and families in the Meeker School District; the adults in our school district embrace their obligation to ensure all students learn at high levels; our community shows tremendous support for our students; and, when our focus remains on student learning, our children are poised to make phenomenal contributions to society.
For these reasons, regardless of funding difficulties, I am proud to be a Meeker Cowboy!