March 28, 2023

Dawson County Journal

Dawson County, Nebraska

School mill levy measures fail in Douglas County

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Disappointment has hit some in Douglas County as two ballot issues geared toward securing better pay for teachers and facility upgrades were voted down.

Issue 5A would have increased taxes by $60 million each year to attract and retain quality teachers. It failed by a narrow margin, with 49.29% supporting the measure and 50.71% opposed.

Issue 5B would have increased debt by $450 million — with a repayment cost of $775.5 million — and would have also increased taxes by nearly $50 million to make building and security upgrades and reduce overcrowding. It failed as well, with 45.78% voting yes and 54.22% opposed.

Students, parents and teachers told FOX31 they are bracing for changes because of the lack of funding.

“A lot of canvassing, a lot of money, and we didn’t have any of that this year so it takes a lot of people power, because people just don’t want to fund public education in Douglas county,” Stephanie Chancy, a mother of two, said.

Teacher pay in Douglas County lower than neighbors

The Douglas County School District said that pay will not be frozen or reduced for any employee classification because state revenue is predicted to increase. New licensed salary schedules remain the same without touching the fund balance.

A letter sent home to parents reads, “While we won’t be able to pay staff competitively relative to our neighbors just yet, we will continue to move forward as we have been.”

Chancy fears teachers will flee to neighboring school districts that offer better salaries.

“We’re going to be losing a lot of teachers — that’s the biggest thing,” Chancy said. “We have excellent teachers, but if they could make $14,000-$17,000 (more) 10 minutes away in Littleton or Cherry Creek, they’re going to go there and then you’re going to start to see teachers leaving in droves.”

Student activist Asella Straus told FOX31, “If we lost them, (it) could result in confusing times for us as students and losing a couple of our favorite teachers.”

Teacher federation weighs in

The Douglas County Federation, representing teachers, said both measures would have enhanced learning for students and ensured the retention of dedicated teachers.

A spokesperson provided the following statement to FOX31: “It is our hope that the voters have an opportunity to address these initiatives again next year. There is work to be done in the future to educate our community about the importance of supporting our teachers, staff, and schools through adequate funding.”

School board President Mike Peterson provided the following statement:

“We know that the best way to achieve the mission and vision of this great school district is by continuing to promote mutually respectful and beneficial partnerships between our parents and staff, and by continuing to build trust and improve community partnerships. The way our community came together around 5A and 5B was a strong step forward and we are truly optimistic about the future of the Douglas County School District.

While we are disappointed in the election results, the DCSD Board of Education remains dedicated to championing the issues of providing more competitive pay for our educators and staff, addressing our schools’ capital needs and building schools in quickly-growing developments in Douglas County. To the families of Crystal Valley, The Canyons, and Sterling Ranch, we will continue to explore all methods to provide you with the schools that your children need and deserve.”

Source: Rocky Mountain News