The community of Durango overwhelmingly supported the two existing mill levies from which the Durango School District 9-R currently benefits. The first Mill Levy, 3A, was passed in 2010 identified specific uses for that money, which included:
- Attracting and retaining high quality staff - Durango 9-R uses $1.3M from 3A in addition to state and other local monies to provide competitive salaries and benefits to retain and attract quality staff. In 2008-2009, before 3A was passed, the starting salary for a new teacher was $32,620. Currently, with the support of the original 3A and a new salary schedule for licensed staff, new teachers start in the district at $40,000.
- Maintaining class sizes - From the 2010-2011 to the 2011-2012 school year, state funding dropped $340.89 per student. This reduction, along with the reduction in the number of students, worked out to a $2M+ decrease in state funding to the District. The District continues to use $1.5M of 3A funds to maintain class sizes that are below state and regional averages.
- Supporting technology - Over the past three years, the District has used 3A technology funds to increase the access speed at all the schools, infrastructure and to increase the number of computers and tablets available in the District. The District continues to pull $400,000 from 3A to support these technology needs.
In 2016, the Durango community saw the adverse effects of the negative factor and TABOR on school funding and supported the passage of a second Mill Levy, called 3A2. Because this Mill Levy is relative to the number of students enrolled in the District, the need for additional mill levies has essentially been eliminated. The buckets for this funding are a bit broader than the original 3A, so as to be able to adjust to future needs in the District that may be currently unknown. Those buckets include:
- Investing in critical programs that support college and workforce ready graduates.
- Minimizing increased class sizes and loss of more educational programs.
- Maintaining our ability to attract, retain and train high-quality staff.
- Ensuring safe and innovative learning environments.
For the 2017/18 year, the 3A2 Mill Levy brought in a total of $1,545,500. You can learn more about how these funds were disbursed between these four buckets by viewing the below PDF, which features the 3A funding pages from the District Budget.
The Mill Levy dollars from 3A2 are also shared with our local charter schools, including The Juniper School. The third page of the PDF showcases how much of the total Mill Levy dollars were transferred to outside entities for the purpose of serving educational needs for students in Durango.