Investing in Our Students’ Futures
By Erin Kane, Superintendent, Douglas County School District
Here in the Douglas County School District (DCSD), we have some of the most dedicated teachers, principals and support staff who give their all each and every day to ensure that our studentsare receiving the best possible education. Because of their efforts, there is so much to celebrate. For example:
17 of our schools received the 2022 Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE).
28 of our schools received the 2022 John Irwin Award of Excellence from CDE.
Rock Canyon High School received the 2022 Academic Growth Award from CDE.
DCSD students had some of the highestaverage SAT scores in Colorado (average 1059).
Many Pathways to SuccessAfter Graduation DCSD has expandedFuture-Focused Pathways for students to enter collegeor career after high school.
52 Programs and 22 Industry Certifications offered.
14,229 Career and Technical Education Seats in 2023-24 (highest to-date!)
$116 Million in college scholarships earned by the Class of 2022.
$3.7 Million in tuition saved by families (due to concurrent enrollment opportunities earning college credits while in high school).
Because itis our teachers, principals and staff who make these accomplishments possible - it is atop priority to retain them. Our employees are the key to ensuring that future students receive the same excellence and opportunities from our school district as today’s students have.
Looking to the Future We are faced with a growing challenge in our school district: inadequate school funding. While many believe that school funding increases as home values rise, that is not the case. When local revenue increases, the state simply contributes less. Therefore, school districts often rely on voter-approved Mill Levy Overrides and Bonds to bring in additional funding. Here are a few eye-opening facts about fundingin the Douglas County School District (DCSD):
DCSD collects $2,000 less per student per year in Mill Levy Override dollars compared to some neighboring school districts.
As a result, DCSD’saverage teacher pay of $58,193 is more than $19,000 less than Cherry Creek School District and $15,000 less than Littleton Public Schools.
Starting pay for a teacher in DCSD is $45,290 making finding an affordable place to live incredibly challenging.
It’s critical to keep DCSD’s school buildings updated, safe and comfortable for our students and staff.
As you may remember, in November 2022, DCSD had a $60 million Mill Levy Override and $450 million Bond on the ballot. Unfortunately, both measures fell just short of passing. However, polling shows that our residents understand how important funding issues are to our community. In fact, more than two-thirds of respondents of a recent survey of 400 likely votersin Douglas County support increased school funding. This is incredibly encouraging.
School districts across the nation are challenged by the current teacher shortage. Hiring in general is more competitive than ever. Here in Douglas County, we must do everything we can to retain our amazing teachers and staff.
It’s simply not okay that we have teachers who:
Are commuting many miles to our district because they can’t afford to live in the community where they work.
Are working multiple jobs to make ends meet.
Are working in buildings that are in need of overdue upgrades resulting in less than comfortable working and learning environments.
If the pay gaps between us and neighboring school districts go unresolved, eventually more and more teachers will feel forced to move to districts that can pay them significantly more.
However, there is a solution. Together, we can invest in our amazing school district to ensure that future students receive the same opportunities that today’s students have here in DCSD.
The Douglas County School District is again considering placing a potential Mill Levy Override and Bond on the November 2023 ballot. These possible ballot measures would help by:
Increasing Pay: Make DCSD teacher and staff pay more competitive with other school districts.
Enhancing Safety and Security: Provide additional School Resource Officersand security staffat schools and continuously upgrade and replace equipment.
Investing in Career and Technical Education: Continued investment in pathways,setting our studentsup for success after high school.
Upgrading Buildings: Keeping school buildings comfortable and safe for students and staff.
Constructing New Schools:Building new schoolsin quickly-growing neighborhoods to reduce crowding.
An investment in our studentsand schools is an investment in our communities. Schools are an integral part of our neighborhoods, our economies, and our lives. A high-quality school system, which requires high-quality teachers and staff,attracts businesses and residents to our thrivingcommunity, keeps our home values strong, and provides a pipeline of educated future workers to the businesses in our community.
Learn more at www.dcsdk12.org/funding.
Erin Kane is the Superintendent of the Douglas County School District which has 89 schools and 63,000 students.