Here are some of the questions we’ve heard while discussing supporting local schools, staff and students with community members.
Property values are going up. Will I pay more taxes for the Mill Levy Override in future years if my house is assessed at a higher rate?
No. The mill levy override is set at $60 million. The total MLO amount does not increase when property values do. On the other hand, as new businesses open and homes are built in Douglas County, the cost to each taxpayer will decrease.
Right now, homeowners will pay $1.00 per week per $100,000 of current assessed home value. 5A (Mill Levy Override) is a fixed dollar amount ($60 million).
Why should we pay teachers more when our students' test scores are higher than other districts, including those where teacher salaries are higher?
Douglas County School District is the largest employer in the county. Obviously, employers reward employees when they perform well.
When neighboring districts pay 20% or more than our district does, they're trying to attract the best and brightest away from other districts. When our teachers earn an average of $58,000 a year and homeowner costs exceed $51,000, relocating becomes pretty tempting.
Because of the way Colorado school finance works, local funding - an MLO - is the only way to finance competitive staff salaries.
Why do we need new schools? Also, isn't building maintenance already in the budget?
The District has not built a new school since 2010, yet more than 70,000 people have moved into the area since then.
DCSD is 2/3 the size of Rhode Island. In some areas, student enrollment is declining as residents age in place. However, in other areas like Sterling Ranch, The Canyons and Crystal Valley, growth is intense. The fiscally prudent approach is to build need new elementary neighborhood schools for the high growth areas; expand middle schools without building new structures; and address expected overall District changes via an ongoing three-to-five year strategic plan.
The District has 111 buildings, including 89 schools. These capital assets require $30-35 million in maintenance each year. The District has provided a detailed bond plan that itemizes the projects that are not in the current budget, such as replacement buses, which cost over $130,000 apiece; Career/Tech Education options and center-based programs support for special education; security enhancements; and expensive items such as boilers.
See the detailed bond plan, itemizing each project.
Raising teacher salaries won't take $60 million dollars. What is the rest of the money for?
$60 million is the total cost for salary increases for every DCSD employee (not just teachers); benefits; and a proportionate share for DCSD-authorized charter schools.
DCSD is the county's largest employer, with 8,600 employees. Each employee will receive a pay increase.
Benefits have to be funded as well
The total cost of an employee includes benefits. The district contributes to the state retirement program, PERA (Public Education Retirement Association). PERA is a statewide retirement program for public education employees in lieu of social security.
DCSD budgets 21% of salaries for PERA. (Each employee also contributes about 11% of their salaries.)
DCSD-authorized charter schools share in MLO funds
DCSD charter schools will also use MLO funds for salary and benefit increases.
From the DCSD website
In total, $44.5M of the Mill Levy Override will be used for district salary and benefits increases. The other $15.5M will be shared with Douglas County School District-authorized charter schools for compensation and benefits increases at those schools.
Of the $44.5M district-share, $31.2M will go toward teacher salary increases and the associated PERA costs and $13.2M will go to support and other staff (salaries and PERA).
How do I know this Board will be transparent in the management of these funds?
If funding passes, the money will be overseen by the District and school leadership, not the Board of Education. Though the Board approves the overall budget each year, it does not engage in the day-to-day operation of the District.
The District has published both a detailed salary schedule and an equally detailed bond plan.
The Board has multiple oversight committees, including the Mill/Bond Oversight Committee; the Fiscal Oversight Committee; the Long Range Planning Committee; the District Accountability Committee; the Equity Advisory Committee; and the Student Advisory Group. Each of these oversight committees is composed of volunteers with a wide variety of perspectives and expertise unified by an interest in education. Each provides reports and guidance on an ongoing basis to the Board. The Mill/Bond Oversight Committee is specifically referenced in the ballot language.
The language for initiative 5A and 5B, aside from the boilerplate required by law, is very specific. (Read the MLO and bond language for yourself on the Douglas County Elections website).
Does DCSD teach "woke" ideology?
From the DCSD website:
FACT: DCSD is dedicated to promoting positive partnerships between parents, teachers and schools.
DCSD follows Colorado state standards, and DCSD, as a district, is absolutely NOT promoting any sort of “woke ideology”. If a parent has concerns about something happening in their child’s school or classroom we encourage them to kindly reach out to their teacher directly to have a conversation about their concerns - building these essential parent-teacher relationships is key to the success of each of our students.
I've read that the community is polarized. How are you going to address that?
After years of division, support for our children, teachers, staff and schools is bringing people together. We are seeing a once very divided community come together to support our students, teachers and schools.
The support from civic, philanthropic and political leadership across the District has been astounding. Click here see our press release.
Bottom line: is this funding good for our students, schools and community?
Students will benefit from our ability to retain great teachers and attract new ones with competitive compensation. New schools and expanding existing buildings will help us reduce overcrowding. Updating security will help ensure student safety.
Our schools will benefit from the resources to provide ongoing, proactive maintenance.
Our community will benefit from well-educated students who. like many current Douglas County residents, may return someday to open their own businesses and to teach in our schools.
In addition, the construction projects will provide a short-term benefit to our local economy. According to an economic impact study prepared by a neutral third party, Impact Data Source of Austin, Texas: the business impact of the bond alone will be demonstrably positive throughout the local community. It will create jobs, provide revenue to local business, and add to our tax base.