The Bethune School District on the eastern plains is in the midst of a financial crisis.
"Right now we're looking for $172,000 in compensation just to survive general operations for our school," said Shila Adolf, superintendent of the district which is located about 8 miles west of Burlington, the last town on the Interstate 70 corridor.
Adolf also serves as the school principal and counselor for the district which serves 113 students. She took on those roles in an effort to cut costs. There are only 8 teachers but they would like at least 13.
"We no longer purchase technology," said Adolf. "I would like to spread the classes out a little bit more, especially for math and science reasonings, because I go into Denver and I see the classrooms that have actually STEM implemented and different things and it's amazing. I can't do that, I can't ask a teacher to do the same sort of curriculum and rigor when they're teaching two curriculums."
She says they've nearly run through their reserve funds after state funding was cut in 2009. According to the non profit, Colorado School Finance Project, the district has lost $1.7 million in funding since then. Adolf says they had been using grants to supplement funding but as student achievement improved they became ineligible.
On Thursday night Adolf hosted what she called a crisis meeting for community members. She's hoping to garner support for a mill levy override on the November ballot. It would amount to an increase of about $68 for the average resident.
"Unfortunately that's a very hard sell," Adolf said. "I think a lot of voters want to see something new for the additional money. And I'm really preaching what you're going to see is that the lights are on and the teachers are there teaching. It's not going to be a new bus or a new building or anything new. For us it's just general operating support we're asking for."
If voters turn down the mill levy, the district would have to consider other options which includes shutting down and joining other nearby districts. Adolf speculates the district could be split down the middle with half moving into the Burlington School District or the Stratton School District.
"I hate to look that far into the future, but I think that's a harsh reality if they don't back this, to me that's basically an affirmation you don't want this to exist," said Adolf. "But I think there's multiple ways to fight it. I think they need to fight it with the legislature, fight it locally, we do need to invest in our kids.'