By Erin Kane, Superintendent, Douglas County School District
You’ve likely heard about the funding challenges our school district is facing. But what does that mean for our schools here in Parker?
It’s easy to assume that when home prices are high, and many new homes are being built, that property taxes for our schools would go up. Unfortunately, that’s not how the School Finance Act works in Colorado. Think of school funding like a bucket – first, the bucket gets filled with local funding, then the state fills in the rest (when local funding goes up - the state contributes less to fill that bucket). However, we can change the size of our bucket with a Mill Levy Override(MLO) and Bond, which would provide more local funding to our schools.
More Competitive Pay for Our Teachers and Staff
DCSD’s MLO is currently significantly less than other school districts. For example, DCSD receives nearly $2,000 less per student compared to Cherry Creek School District. This greatly impacts our ability to pay our teachers and staff competitively. Additional funding via an MLO would make it possible for us to pay our amazing teachers and staff more competitively – that includes teachers, bus drivers, custodians, educational assistants and more right here in our Parker schools. One of our neighboring school districts is paying teachers, on average, upwards of $18,000 more per year. As you can imagine, that pay increase is difficult to ignore, especially during tough economic times.
A New School for The Canyons / An Expansion for Sierra Middle School
It seems anywhere you look around Parker new homes are being built. And that means more students are attending our schools in the area. However, this can lead to crowding- and some of our schools are already near or at capacity. Additional funding through a Bond would enable DCSD to construct a new school in The Canyons in neighboring Castle Pines, and also add an expansion to Sierra Middle School. That would help alleviate crowding in our other schools.
Cost to Residents
If DCSD were to pass a $60 Million Mill Levy Override and a $450 Million Bond, it would cost taxpayers $1 per week per $100,000 of home value (assessed actual value). For a home with an assessed actual value of $500,000 that would be $5 per week. For a home with an assessed actual value of $1,000,000, that would be $10 per week. The MLO and Bond would be fixed dollar amounts, meaning the cost per homeowner would not increase as home valuations rise. In fact, the cost would diminish over time as more homes and businesses are created (more people would ultimately be sharing the cost).
I hope we can count on you to learn more about how our schools are funded. Visit our website at www.dcsdk12.org/ funding.