June 2, 2023

Dear TSD Families,

As we end another great school year, I want to thank you for all the support you provide to our school community. We are fortunate to have the amazing staff, students, and families that we do. Seeing all the end of year activities from PreSchool through Senior Graduation helps to remind me of the wonderful opportunities we are able to provide our students through the hard work of our staff and with the generous support of our community.

This Wednesday’s Daily Planet article summed up the end of the year nicely. If you have not seen it you can find it at: https://www.telluridenews.com/news/article_62ca1eae-ff58-11ed-996d-4f383aa24935.html. I know KOTO will also be doing an end of year wrap up next week, so listen for that as well.

I want to provide quick updates on a few things:

1. Infographic from the Colorado School Finance Project

2. Bond consideration

3. Potential Rico annexation

4. Lead Testing update

5. Reunification update

6. Staff wage increases

InfoGraphic from CFSP’s ESSER Survey Results

The Colorado School Finance Project provides a lot of support for school districts in the state. I felt the infographic below from CSFP’s ESSER Mid-Point Survey is worth sharing, as it shows how the needs we have identified in our school and community align with much of the rest of the state, including affordable housing, student emotional/behavioral support, and childcare.

Big picture

Bond Update

At our May 18 Citizen Task Force Meeting, the Task Force discussed the voter survey results and other feedback from the community. Based on what we heard from voters, we have decided to make adjustments to the bond proposal and proceed forward with recommending a measure be put on the November ballot. Here are some of the main points to consider:

· Employee housing was rated in the survey as the most important need

· Many infrastructure improvements also rated highly, especially those that directly impact teaching and learning

· Passing a bond measure will free up operating funds for expenses related to teaching and learning, which survey respondents strongly support

Rico Annexation Update

The Rico Planning Committee has approved a DRAFT Reorganization Plan and will hold Public Hearings in Telluride (June 20), Rico (June 21), and Dove Creek (June 21). An informational packet and survey will also go out to all voters. After considering feedback from the hearings and survey, the Committee will make a final decision on whether to put a measure on the November ballot. Key points for consideration include:

· Detachment and annexation will not increase taxes in any community

· Detachment and annexation will not change educational funding for anycommunity

· Detachment and annexation will guarantee Rico students the ability to be educated in Telluride.

Lead Testing Update

On March 17 I sent a letter with information about lead test results. Three of the 51 fixtures tested had results above the allowable threshold; those three fixtures were taken out of service immediately. Those three fixtures have now been replaced, along with another that was slightly above the allowable threshold, and we will retest those fixtures over the summer. If results are acceptable, we will put those fixtures back into service.

Reunification Update

On May 17 we held a School Reunification Tabletop exercise led by SMC Emergency Manager Shannon Armstrong, with about 25 school and emergency personnel in attendance. While we initially thought we might follow this with a pilot including a small number of staff and families, we have instead decided to hold a full staff drill (without students) in August where we will run through a full-scale scenario. This will further prepare us for an actual reunification should we ever have the need. Here are a few key points to remember related to a reunification:

· Cell phone service will likely be down or significantly impacted due to towers being overloaded. We will ask students to communicate with families in a controlled fashion (i.e.; (every XX minutes) in an attempt to avoid tower overload.

· Accurate factual information will be provided by me, and by the town and county communication managers assisting me, in as frequent and timely a manner as possible. Please only share official and factual information.

· The reunification process will take time! It is important everyone follows directions provided in official communications. This will allow emergency personnel the access they need to do their critical jobs.

· The patience and cooperation of all parties is essential to a successful reunification.

Staff wage increases

We completed our annual contract negotiations in May, and the unprecedented increase in state funding this year allowed us to give staff unprecedented wage increases to make up for funding shortfalls in past years. Since 2009, the state has proportionally reduced the amount of total funding for each school district through a tool called the Budget Stabilization Factor. The cumulative shortage of the Budget Stabilization factor on our district since 2009 is over $13 million. In the past few years, the legislature has committed to reducing the annual shortage to zero (but not the cumulative shortage, we will never recover this). As a result, and with last year’s inflation rate set at 8% by the legislative Joint Budget Committee, we received an approximate 10% increase in revenues from last year to this year which we were able to pass on to our employees through much-deserved wage and benefit increases. It is important to note that eliminating the Budget Stabilization Factor still only brings our funding to 1989 levels and Colorado is still the 49th state in the country in educational spending. While this increase helps our employees, we still have a long way to go to have our wages match comparable cost-of living areas for educational wages.

Even though it snows in June in Telluride this is still an amazing place to be. I hope you have an incredible summer, whether you travel or stick around for festivals, camps, recreation, and relaxation.


John Pandolfo