RoundUp for Teachers, a brainstorm from this year’s Leadership La Plata class, aims to fill the much-needed gap between teachers’ salaries and their cost of living. Inspired by similar movements on the Front Range, RoundUp for Teachers encourages local shoppers to round up their purchases at participating stores throughout the month of March. The end goal is to help teachers in Durango and La Plata County earn a sustainable, living wage through informational campaigns. By Hannah Robertson. This story is sponsored by Happy Pappy's Pizza & Wings and Pop's Truck & RV Center
Colorado, while ranking high in areas such as happiness, health, and fitness, is one of the lowest ranked states in the country when it comes to teacher salaries. According to statistics from school funding fairness, Colorado ranks 50th out of all states when it comes to teacher salaries, and spends $2,200 less per student than the national average. A group of Durango individuals is hoping to change that norm for La Plata County teachers. You are watching the Local News Network, brought to you by Happy Pappy's Pizza and Wings and Pop's Truck and RV Center. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.
Roundup For Teachers is basically a project that a group of the leadership will apply to participants. A small group got together. We had attended one of the day classes there on education and it really opened our eyes to the state of education in Colorado, the state of funding of education in Colorado specifically, and walked away looking at each other thinking, we need to do something about this. And so we started this campaign called Roundup for Teachers.
Roundup for Teachers is part of a larger campaign to raise awareness of teacher salaries, what they are, and what has happened in the state of Colorado to cause the lower salaries, and ultimately get an initiative on the ballot to vote for a sales tax increase to directly fund teacher salaries in La Plata County.
So the state is a little bit hamstrung by TABOR to fund education, and there have been a couple of success stories in the state of other counties trying to make their own commitment to education. So this is a way for counties to really commit to the education and find a way to fight against some of those ways the state has been holding back education in Colorado.
Several measures in the state legislature have limited the use of funds provided to the school districts in Colorado, essentially causing the state to issue IOUs to many school districts. But an IOU doesn't go very far when it comes to increasing teacher salaries. Aspen in Steamboat Springs found ways to increase funding to schools and teachers through a county-wide tax. And the members of the 2022 class of leadership La Plata aim to achieve something similar. The first step is Roundup for Teachers, a program that encourages shoppers at local stores to round up their purchases.
You'll see it when you walk into businesses. And well, actually we're putting together the list of businesses that want to partner. If you are a business and you're interested in getting involved in impacting this, we're definitely interested in getting more businesses. But local businesses, you'll walk up, you'll have the ability to round up your purchase for teachers. And then that money will go towards this campaign, which will be initially of five or six-month local campaign to raise awareness, followed by this kind of larger goal to work on getting an initiative on the ballot.
Sales tax increases in La Plata County have historically not always been successful, but Carder, Bierman, and the rest of the leadership La Plata team are intent on making sure there is plenty of information available to the public beginning this March and continuing through the next fall. And that's actually the whole point of this program, is to create the awareness in the community so people know that the issue exists. People may not realize the state of education in Colorado. So the goal is to educate everyone so that way we can get feedback from the community and all of the constituents between Bayfield, Ignacio, Durango telling us what they need and what they would like to see.
Look for Roundup for Teacher signs at local stores when you're out and about shopping. The campaign is looking for partners, both local businesses and individuals, to partner with the organization over the next couple of months. Follow the website for updates and information for where you can round up your purchase and to hear testimonials from Durango teachers about the difference a salary raise will make. Learn more about this and other stories at durangolocal.news. Thank you for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.