Dear Editor:

All grades K-12 are now attending in person at the Telluride schools – this success is due in large part to our teachers, staff and administrators putting in hard work and extensive planning over the summer and adjusting to new realities over the first month of the school year. The district tests our staff for COVID regularly, and works with county public health to ensure our health metrics remain in low-risk range – thanks to the parents and kids for following all guidance to keep us healthy.

Enrollment in the Telluride school district is down (so far). Every year we have new families arrive and others that leave and this year more so than ever. As of this writing (Sept. 29) we have 875 pupils versus 885 at on Oct. 1, 2019. Our school budget is entirely determined by the state formula funding each student times the pupil count on Oct. 1, 2020. This year the state will allow us to include students enrolled and attending either in person or learning remotely. Our message to parents on the fence about sending their children to school is this: just do it. We have made staffing and planning adjustments to accommodate all students. We are operating in a safe and effective manner. We’re ready for your kids!

School finances are OK for now, but we worry about next year. The district built up a rainy day fund, which we need this year. The state of Colorado cut our funding by nearly $1 million for the current school year. The CARES Act sent some money to our district for COVID expenses; however we are projecting those expenses to be $500,000 more than what we received. The district does not get any money from real estate transfer taxes. Unlike Aspen, we do not have a sales tax benefiting the schools that would help capture the extra economic activity occurring in Telluride. Increased property values don’t help the school district either — the tax rate on homes in our region is set to drop (again) next year.

What can you do? Vote in November. Colorado has on the ballot:

Amendment B. The Gallagher Amendment continues to reduce property tax rates on mega-million-dollar homes and increase costs for our local businesses. This would stop that madness. Vote Yes to repeal Gallagher; Proposition EE proposes a new tax on vaping products to equalize taxes with smoked tobacco, which would generate revenue for education and other uses. Vote Yes :Proposition 116 proposes to lower our flat tax rate in the state by 0.13 percent. The taxpayer would barely notice, but the state would be devastated, and we are already in a major financial hole. Vote No.

Send your kids to school. Our funding for the year is determined based on the number of students enrolled and attending during the 11 days of schooling around October 1. 

Give to a local nonprofit that supports education. One great choice is the Telluride Education Foundation, whose mission is to raise money to invest in the enrichment of K-12 education in the Telluride School District. If you have the means and desire to support our schools, donate at tellurideeducation.org

Be kind to a teacher, principal, or school worker. They’ve all been working twice as hard for the same pay. Drop off a bag of apples. Say thank you. Sew them a mask. Show them some love.

Thank you all for continuing to support Telluride schools — the No.1 school district in Colorado!

 Dylan Brooks

Treasurer/Secretary 

Telluride R-1 School District Board