Voter-approved funds go to buildings, programs

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Following the passage of the mill levy override (MLO) and bond initiatives, I committed to providing you with regular updates about how that money is being utilized. Here’s the latest on how voter-approved dollars are being invested into our schools.

Bond

I’m excited to share that some of the bond work has begun! In late January, DCSD sold $249,975,000 in general obligation bonds as approved by voters in November 2018. The proceeds from the bonds provide one-time funds for capital needs such as security upgrades, facility repairs, classroom furnishings, buses and technology.

Over spring break, new flooring was installed in areas inside Eagle Ridge Elementary, Chaparral High School and Ponderosa High School. Improvements to the heat exchangers at Shea Stadium have been completed. Work on mechanical controls (the systems that control HVAC, etc. at each school) has started at Sagewood Elementary and Ranch View Middle School.

This summer, roofing repairs, bleacher repairs and additional flooring work will take place. In addition, replacement rooftop units for heating and cooling will be completed for some of our charter schools and a new turf field at Legend High School will be installed.

Information about work at each school can be found online at www.dcsdk12.org/funding.

Mill levy override

Voters also approved a $40 million mill levy override for operational needs such as salaries, staffing and student programming. These dollars are collected annually via property taxes.

Compensation

As I shared in January, $17 million is being used for staff compensation and benefits (excluding superintendent and cabinet). While this begins to narrow pay gaps between us and our neighboring school districts, there is still work to be done.

In February, our HR team and DCSD Employee Council identified next steps for developing a new pay structure, including a salary study to compare DCSD’s salary structures to other school districts, and partnering with an outside consultant to help determine compensation needs in DCSD. Recommendations for a new pay structure will ultimately be shared with our Board of Education for a final decision.

We anticipate that the development of a new compensation structure will be a work in progress for most of the 2019-2020 school year.

Mental health resources

We are ramping up efforts to recruit additional counselors for our elementary, middle and high schools. If you know someone who would make a great counselor, please spread the word! As a reminder, $3.5 million of the MLO is being used to add counselors at the elementary school level, and $2.5 million of the MLO is being used to reduce the middle and high school student-to-counselor ratio.

Career and technical education

There will be $2 million of the MLO used to increase career- and trade-focused student programming, and to hire certified staff members for career and technical education courses. DCSD is currently exploring ways to increase career and technical education opportunities for our students.

School-level funding

More than $7 million will go toward school-level funding. These funds will be distributed depending on individual school needs. This includes increasing funding for students who qualify for free or reduced lunch and adding funds for small schools.

Charter schools

More than $8 million of the MLO was passed through to DCSD charter schools on an equal, per pupil basis.

Mill Bond Oversight Ad Hoc Committee

DCSD recently formed a Mill Bond Oversight Ad Hoc Committee. This group of 20 individuals is monitoring the progress of the improvements and programs being implemented, ensuring expenditures are in alignment with ballot language approved by voters, and periodically reporting to the DCSD Board of Education. I sincerely appreciate this group’s service to our school district and community.

Please continue to visit www.dcsdk12.org/funding for the latest information. Again, thank you for supporting our students and staff!

Thomas S. Tucker, Ph.D., is the superintendent of the Douglas County School District.

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