We learned on Thursday that a Western Slope school is in danger of closing. The De Beque School District 47 JT is exploring options on how to keep its schools open.
Last year, the district tried to pass a property tax increase, but it failed. Without help soon, the school could begin closures as early as next school year.
We spoke with district superintendent Marty Lucas on Thursday. He said, "The bottom line is if we don't pass the election next fall, we are going to have to make a tough decision."
They have tried budget cuts already, but it is only a short-term solution.
"We believe that we can manage our budget for another year with further reductions and the use of some of our cash reserves, but we can only do that for a short period of time," Lucas continued.
The problem is that students are leaving just as quickly as the energy jobs. Lucas said that over the past couple years, enrollment has been cut in half.
He continued, "If we don't increase the number of students or increase the amount of revenue somehow, we can not continue to manage a K-12 budget like we've had in the past."
So again, they are asking tax payers for help.
"We attempted to pass a mill levy override last November and lost that election by one single vote."
This was a close call for a district that really needed the money.
He added, "It appears we will have to reduce our budget again by nearly the same amount we did last spring which was $240,000.00."
The district is putting the mill levy increase on the ballot again in November. It's a last ditch effort to keep the district running.
Finally, he said, "It is likely we would decide not to have a high school if we don't pass the election next fall."
If that happens, kids who currently attend high school in De Beque would have to attend school in either the Plateau Valley School District (50) or the Mesa Valley School District (51). Either way, the students would have to go much farther to get to school.