What does Salida R-32-J really need?

Sidebar by Martha Quillen

Salida school mill levy election – November 2001 – Colorado Central Magazine

In the final analysis, almost all of the numbers support the idea that Salida could use more money — since it certainly isn’t one of the richest districts in the state. The truth is, most of the schools in our region could use more money (some of them far more desperately than R-32-J

But on the other hand, the numbers don’t necessarily support the mill levy override that’s now proposed for District R-32-J — since it provides new funds only for employee salaries. Although teachers could, no doubt, use more money, recent cutbacks in staff and programs made by the R-32-J school district, and some of the statistics in Salida’s CDE report cards, both suggest that Salida might have more pressing needs.

According to the 2000-2001 CDE report cards, Salida District R-32-J’s revenue per pupil is substantially lower than Buena Vista’s, yet more of R-32-J’s money goes to teachers’ salaries — even though Salida has fewer teachers. (Less of Salida’s money went to administrators’ salaries, however.)

In Salida, more money also goes to building and facility maintenance than in Buena Vista, but the Salida district spends less on textbooks/materials. And that might not be the best division of funds — less on text and more on fewer teachers.

But the new mill levy override, slated as it is for employee salaries only, might escalate that trend. Aspen, of course, has everything that money can buy, but one of the most interesting stats is that Aspen High School has a mere three students more than Salida High School, but it has 31.3 teachers to Salida’s 23.1. According to school spokesmen, however, override funds cannot be used for hiring new teachers.

Of course, according to the school board, new teachers aren’t exactly eager to come here anyway, and they won’t be unless we up our pay scale. Yet even with the override, we won’t be able to afford more teachers.

There are plans to improve school programs, though. According to school board member Ken Brandon, the district hopes to improve teacher salaries with this measure, and then improve school programs and recover from problems caused by recent cutbacks with funds that should soon become available from Amendment 23.