PUEBLO, Colo. -

The clock continues ticking for Pueblo City Schools (D60), according to a preliminary accreditation report the district released this week.

Test scores dropped slightly last school year, keeping the district in priority improvement status. The Colorado Department of Education has a five-level ranking for districts. Priority improvement status is the second lowest; turnaround status is the lowest. D60 is entering its fourth year in one of the lower two levels. Districts that remain in the priority improvement or turnaround status for five years risk facing state intervention.

Superintendent Dr. Constance Jones believes that won't happen. "I feel 100 percent confident. I truly do. I feel like teachers and principals are energized. It's going to be a tremendous challenge, I'm not going to minimize the work that we're going to have to do this year," Jones said.

Jones plans to appeal the results of the preliminary accreditation report because she's concerned the state may have miscalculated some of the figures.

Board president Dr. Kathy DeNiro told KRDO NewsChannel 13 the results took her by surprise. "For me it took my breath away because that wasn't the expectation. I know that everyone is working very, very hard."

Fifteen of the district's 32 schools fall under priority improvement or turnaround status, compared to 13 in the 2012-2013 school year.

Jones said in the event that the district loses accreditation in 2016 she's looking at making sure another agency can accredit Pueblo's four high schools.

"They need to be accredited in order for our students to be able to have their courses accepted at the college and university level," Jones said.

DeNiro said she knows time is winding down. "We're going turn it around. No doubt about it. It's an economic issue in this town if we don't, so we're very serious."