Board of Education Update – May 3, 2018 Focus on Achievement

Final Recommendations for 2018-19 Budget

At the May 3, 2018 Focus on Achievement session, the Board of Education received the final recommendations for the 2018-19 fiscal year budget. An overview of the budget assumptions includes a 4.4% increase for teachers (including steps and lanes and ProComp payments) this is part of the district’s 5-year collective bargaining agreement with the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA).

Other highlights of the presentation covered:

  • Increases in funding for special education in our schools
  • A 5-year forecast of district enrollment and 5-year proposed budget
  • Changes in revenues and expenditures between last fiscal year and this fiscal year
  • An overview of the Budget Transparency Guidebook: School Support Services being released tonight (see story below) and overview of the district’s departments
  • Information on how the district has strategically invested in schools and programs that help achieve our vision that Every Child Succeeds through the Denver Plan 2020 goals and strategies

You can read the full presentation here.

Compensation Increases for our Hourly Educators

Roughly 3,000 hourly educators provide essential services in our schools, including direct instructional support, as well as food, transportation and custodial services. DPS is committed to providing a living wage and fair compensation to all our educators as part of our overall commitment to Equity.

As a result, we’re recommending wage increases for our paraprofessionals, custodians, food service workers and bus drivers. The largest of these educator groups — more than 2,000 paraprofessionals who provide direct instructional support — will experience an increase in average pay of 8%, going from $14.19 per hour to $15.34 per hour on average.

We deeply appreciate the contributions our hourly educators make to our school communities. These increases in pay will drive more stability in our schools by decreasing turnover and improving our ability to attract and retain talent. We know from exit interviews and results of CollaboRATE, our engagement survey, that pay and the limited opportunity for pay growth have been significant factors in the decision to leave the district for these employee groups. We’re hopeful these increases will improve service levels in our schools and redirect the focus of school teams who’ve had to spend excessive amounts of time hiring and training new employees.

District Advisory Committee Recommendations

The District Advisory Committee (DAC) budget subcommittee supported the proposed 2018-19 budget.

“We know there are a lot of demands made on this budget,” said Erich Bethke, a DAC budget subcommittee member, acknowledging the complexity of the budget and suggesting alternative recommendations.

“One of the things we looked at is the shift of central office supports to the schools,” he said. “It’s already challenging to run a school, but the district is asking principals to be in charge of more and more budget decisions, and we are asking for them to have some additional support for making those decisions.”

They were complimentary of the district’s focus on supports for educators and the Whole Child.

“It’s remarkable the things that have been achieved in a time of complete ratcheting down,” said Bethke. “I mean, the budget hasn’t increased from the state since 2007. It’s time the state give us an opportunity to show what we could do with additional resources.”

You can hear more about the DAC’s recommendations by watching the meeting recording on DPS TV channel 22 here.

Budget Transparency Guidebook for School Support Services Released 

In the spirit of the Financial Transparency Act, DPS staff presented a new document that will offer educators, families and community members even greater perspective into the district’s General Fund budget decisions. The Budget Transparency Guidebook: School Support Services includes descriptions of the services provided by school support teams for 2017-18, as well as the approximate per-pupil costs of each service. With the release of this guidebook, DPS is leading the nation in school district financial transparency.

This year, just 4% of the district’s expenditures went toward central costs, while 96% was spent directly on supporting students. DPS has limited overhead costs significantly compared to other urban school districts, which typically spend between 10-20% of their budgets on central administrative costs. DPS allocates the majority of its overall budget — around 60% — directly to schools for school leadership teams to prioritize and budget, because school leaders are in the best position to decide how to spend money to best meet their students’ and teachers’ needs. Of the remaining 40%, DPS spends the vast majority of our funds in schools, including transportation, facilities, special education, athletics, teacher/principal compensation and benefits, and textbooks

After the board adopts the 2018-19 budget, DPS staff will create an updated guidebook, which is expected to be released in time for the start of the school year in August.

DPS employees can provide feedback or ask questions about the guidebook online here. Community members are welcome to provide feedback or ask questions by emailing