Recently, I received information from some community members that our teachers were asking for donations of items for their classrooms on a Facebook page that supports teachers. I also received a call from our local radio station asking why we don’t take donations. These events led me to post this blog on the topic.
What school in America would not be grateful for donations during this incredibly difficult time!? We are open to help from those who want to share their generosity; however, we have a very serious responsibility to the tax payers of Dolores School District boundaries to be prudent and transparent with the money they contribute monthly. In 2016, a Mill Levy Override (MLO) was renewed in our district. The ballot measure read:
“Without creating any new tax, shall Dolores School District RE-4A be authorized to continue the said district’s previous tax increase in the amount of $390,000, which was approved by the voters on November 4, 2008, so that said previous tax increase shall be extended for eight years to and including December 31, 2024, and so that for such eight-year period the district may continue to impose a property tax levy at a rate sufficient to produce the amount specified above, to be used for any legally authorized general fund purpose of the district including: Building maintenance and repairs, including but not limited to upgrades to address safety issues, instructional materials, supplies and technology, staff recruitment and retention. Which taxes shall be deposited into the general fund of the district, and may be collect and spent without further voter approval, and shall constitute a voter-approved revenue change notwithstanding the limitations of Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution or any other law? Yes___ or No___”
The ballot measure passed. Because of this, we have set aside the designated funds into specific accounts which include instructional materials, supplies, and technology. We want to honor the monies that are delegated to those things first before we have teachers asking the community to donate. The community is already sacrificing and giving so we want to use that delegated money first. We take our responsibility with tax payer money quite seriously. There are government entities that do not feel that responsibility; however, we are not one of them.
Staff members at Dolores School District RE-4A should follow our process of filling out a purchase order and requesting any items for their classroom, and wait to see if we can fill their request. If we are unable to do so, then we have given them the go ahead to seek other entities such as the Facebook page in Montezuma County that supports teachers.
We are very grateful that there are members in our County who know the financial drain our teachers face. Colorado educators are the lowest paid in the nation. Many times teachers will spend money out of their own pocket to have things for their students. We have made it very clear in our district that we do not want this for our teachers. We want to support them and have the tools they need available. There will come a time when our budget is spent.
The MLO will sunset (end) in 2024. When this happens, it will be a challenging time for our district. Until that time, we want to honor our many supporters by following the district’s process for requesting instructional materials and supplies before we seek help from our community.
Please feel free to reach out to the district office if there are any further questions. Hopefully, this information sheds some light on the controversy that has swirled around the community.
Lis Richard, District Superintendent