DCSD has announced that there will be no DCSD budget reductions for FY 2014 (next year).

We have reviewed the September State revenue forecast, we have reviewed the Governor’s budget proposal, and we have reviewed possible increased costs in the district for next year (like PERA, health insurance premiums, and fuel costs), and we have determined that given the stability and excellent fiscal health of our budget, we will be making no budget reductions for next year.

As you know, last year we worked hard to balance the budget – to live within our means and get ahead of the increased costs curve.  We accomplished both.  We have budgeted appropriately, and as a result, the $2.2 M PERA increase for all employees next year is covered as well as basic health insurance premium increases and fuel costs.  We did this by removing approximately $12 M from district leadership costs and budgets that we did not create.  (We also reduced central leadership costs the year prior – for FY 2012 — as well, and that figure is not included here. I will send more on this soon just so you have it.)

You probably recall that last year we were facing a $18 M budget deficit, AND we were committed to ending years of pay freezes, reducing class sizes in our high schools, not cutting our elementary schools at all, holding our middle schools steady, and improving employee benefit packages – a seemingly impossible combination when we began.  We chose to scour every district budget line and simultaneously look closely at all contracts for reallocation possibilities.  As a result, we reduced central budget lines by approximately $12 M, reduced $3.5 M from our high schools, reduced .5 M from our middle schools but replaced it with one-time money, and reduced $2 M through contract negotiations – including the unbudgeted and on-going liability of the sick leave bank.  We also gave a 1% raise, a 1% retention stipend, a 1% flat amount retention stipend, short term disability insurance, covered the $2.2 M PERA increase for all employees, have NO furlough days, and covered all health insurance increases.   I’ve heard this was the best employee package on the front range.

Again, as a result of our collective work, we will be making no budget cuts for next year, and instead, I hope your spring budget season is filled with conversations about what to do with the money we hope to add to your schools.  What a refreshing change after so many years of incessant budget reductions!  I am really looking forward to that.

Please know that it is our goal to continue to add money back to our schools – to increase SBB amounts across the board and to continue to give employee raises and one-time stipends (with one-time money) with any additional dollars we receive from the State.

Finally, I know the question that may be on your mind if you are a high school teacher, and the answer is that each building chose the schedule they are running and each building will continue to choose their bell schedules.  The expectation from the district leadership is that all site-based budget decisions are based on what is best for our students; and associated with that, our expectation is that whatever schedule you run, students in most classes (exceptions being band, chorus, PE, and other outliers) are loaded at 30 or fewer students per section.  We heard this priority loud and clear from our students and parents, and we are committed to meeting their expectations.

We also realize that students in some schools prefer full loads, and when you have the data that show you require additional one-time dollars to fund these additional sections for students because you have a disproportionate number of students who are selecting 7 or 8 classes, we are happy to fund those additional sections based on that data.  We are committed to funding the classes our students want to take.  This aligns to our priority to provide our students with choices that give them the maximum opportunity for success.

As you may know, my teacher advisory is hosting forums across the district during the coming weeks.  They feel passionately that we need an opportunity for folks to submit questions, have those questions read by teacher moderators, and then have them answered live.  My team and I are more than happy to support them by attending the forums and answering the questions.  If you have the opportunity to attend, we would love to see you there.  For questions about dates and times for your feeder or a feeder near you, please see the “Newsroom” on our website, look in THINK, or on district social media.  If you cannot attend, please never hesitate to email us.

OH…and if you have questions about CITE, please do see my last blog entry.  I think (and hope) a lot of the information you seek is there.  No employee will ever receive less pay as a result of CITE or pay for performance.  There is only an up-side to employees for both CITE and the new pay for performance system.  You can depend on the salary you earn right now.  It will not be lowered.  (Unless of course you accept a new position that is less time or pays less, but that would have nothing to do with CITE or pay for performance.)  If you would like to participate in the pilot, please do email Shelley Tailer as soon as possible.  This came up at the CVHS feeder forum last week, so I am worried that there is still confusion about this fact.  I think people are referring to the old pay for performance system that was part of the mill levy election that did not pass.  That one had a risk associated with being part of the system, the current pay for performance system has no risk to your current salary.  Please know that given more time, and different context, we have reinvented the pay for performance system based on feedback. 🙂