My Cabinet and I recently made a recommendation to the Douglas County School District (DCSD) Board ofEducation to place a $66 million Mill Levy Overrideand $484 million Bond on the November 2023 ballot. The following will provide you, our taxpayers who fund our schools, the rationale behind this recommendation. The Board of Education will ultimately decide whether or not to place these measures on the ballot at a meeting in August 2023.
Economic development, home values, and the future of our community depend on the quality of our schools.Thanks to the hard work of our teachers, staff and students, and our strong partnerships with our amazing families, we have many things to be proud of in our school district.
In order to ensure that we are able to continue to do great things for our students, it is critical that we pay more competitively to keep the amazing teachers and staff that make it all possible, expand Career and Technical Education (CTE) programming, enhance safety and security, and ensure that our kids and staff have access to safe, adequate, high-quality learning environments.
How Schools are Funded
The State of Colorado sets the amount of total funding for each school district each year. That funding comes from a combination of local property tax dollars and state dollars. Like you, my husband and I recently received a letter from the county informing us that our home’s assessed value has risen significantly and so will our propertytaxes. While it is easy to assume that DCSD will benefit from additional property taxes, that is not the case. When local funding increases, the state simply contributes less.
Why Douglas County Schools Cannot Pay Competitively
Because other school districts in the Denver metro area have continuously passed voter-approved local measures to increase their funding, our school district now receives $2,000 less per student than Cherry Creek School District and Littleton Public Schools (equivalent to a gap of $130 Million per year). Even though our general administration spending is far less than our neighbors1, over the last 15 years it has become more and more challenging for us to pay our teachers and staff competitively.
MLO Funding Per Student vs. Average TeacherSalary
Not only is our average teacher salary far below our neighbors, our starting teacher salary ($45,209) makes it nearly impossible for a new teacher to live in Douglas County. Our teachers and staff are the life-blood of our schools. Like many of us, they are raising families, putting kids through college, and navigating the ever increasing cost of living. Many of our teachers have second jobs so they can stay with us. It is getting harder for them to turn down a position for $15,000 to $20,000 more just across the county line. And it is not just our teachers- all of our professionals can make far more in another district and our critical support staff (education assistants, custodians, transportation staff, etc.) can make more at fast food restaurants. If we cannot turn around our inability to offer competitive wages to attract and retain staff, there will be a profound impact on the future of our schools and our community.
How Would Additional Funding Help Our Schools?
Additional funding via a potential Mill Levy Override (MLO) and Bond, which would cost an additional $20 per year per $100,000 in home value* would enable our school district to:
Retain and attractexcellent teachers and staff by increasing salariesto be more competitive with neighboring school districts.
Increase and maintain school security supportsuch as School Resource Officers; and implementing school safety and security upgrades.
Provide additional Careerand Technical Education opportunities for students.
Update, maintain, and construct educational facilities as described in the school district’s bond plan in order to ensuresafe and adequatelearning spaces for students and staff and to reduce overcrowding.
*If both measures pass, the MLO would increase by 3.566 mills and the bond payment would decrease by 0.95 mills; estimated increase assumes 35% growth in assessed values.
I encourage you to learn more about our school system and about how our schools are funded by visiting www. dcsdk12.org/funding. There you can also RSVP to join me for a town hall meeting (there are two to choose from). Bring your questions as I will answer them live!
Virtual Town Hall - Thursday,July 20 at 5:00 p.m. -or-
Live Town Hall - Thursday, July 20 at 6:30 p.m. | LegacyCampus, 10035 S. Peoria Street,Lone Tree.
My three children are still benefiting from the amazing education they received in Douglas County. For me, recommending to put these initiatives on the ballot was about making sure that today’s young children receive the same great opportunities my children have had.
Thank you for supporting our students, teachers, and community.