Letter from Superintendent Erin Kane to All Douglas County Residents
Dear Douglas County Resident,
On June 20, I, along with members of my staff, made a recommendation to the Douglas County School District (DCSD) Board of Education to place a $66 million Mill Levy Override and $484 million Bond on the November 2023 ballot. The decision to make this recommendation was not one we took lightly. I am personally reaching out to the taxpayers that fund our schools to provide more information and to explain 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.
When our Schools Thrive, our Community Thrives
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.
- 28 of our schools received the 2022 John Irwin Schools of Excellence Award and 17 of our schools received the 2022 Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award.
- Douglas County School District has higher reading scores today than pre-pandemic.
- The Douglas County School District Class of 2023 earned nearly $118 million in scholarships.
- The Douglas County School District continues to grow its Career and Technical Education (CTE) programming, providing students additional pathways to success after high school, whether they choose college or going straight to industry.
- In the 2023-2024 school year we will offer 14,229 CTE seats (52 programs and 22 industry certifications) to students – the highest number to-date and the demand for these programs is still growing!
- Douglas County School District received the Meritorious Budget Award for excellence from the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO).
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 CTE programming, enhance safety and security, and ensure that our kids and staff have access to safe, adequate, high-quality learning environments.
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 property taxes. While it is easy to assume that the Douglas County School District 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 neighbors, over the last 15 years it has become more and more challenging for us to pay our teachers and staff competitively.
Per Colorado Department of Education, Douglas County School District’s General Administration Spending Per Student is $63 vs. $149 in Littleton Public Schools and $189 in Denver Public Schools.
MLO Funding Per Student vs. Average Teacher Salary
Today, 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 here in our community. Our amazing teachers and staff are the life-blood of our schools. Like most 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 - $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 Chick-Fil-A. 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.
*MLO per student is total MLO divided by funded pupil count; Average teacher salaries are from CDE data for the 2021-2022 school year
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 attract excellent teachers and staff by increasing salaries to be more competitive with neighboring school districts.
- Increase and maintain school security support such as School Resource Officers; and implementing school safety and security upgrades.
- Provide additional Career and Technical Education opportunities for students.
- Update, maintain, and construct educational facilities as described in the school district’s bond plan in order to ensure safe and adequate learning 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
You, our taxpayers, are investors in our schools (and we are very grateful!). I encourage you to learn more about our school system and about how our schools are funded. Click the QR code below or visit www.dcsdk12.org/funding to:
- 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. | Legacy Campus, 10035 S. Peoria Street, Lone Tree.
- Learn more about how money is spent in your school district and how our schools are funded.
You can also email me with any questions or feedback you may have. As is true for many in our community that no longer have kids in school, 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, and the children of many in our community have had. Maintaining educational excellence is the key to the economic growth of our community, our home values, and our future. Thank you for supporting our students, teachers, and community.
Erin Kane, Superintendent
Douglas County School District