Board of Education Update – September 17, 2018 Work Session

Board Discusses Amendment 73

Recommendations for Funding Include $36 Million Annually for Teacher Pay

The Board of Education heard recommendations from a community advisory board about the Great Schools, Thriving Communities ballot initiative — also known as Amendment 73 — that is up for a statewide vote in November at the September 17, 2018 work session.

Despite the fact that families and community members care deeply about providing high-quality education for kids, Colorado still ranks 39th in the nation for education funding, spending approximately $2,500 less per pupil than the national average. If approved by voters this fall, Amendment 73 would increase income taxes on those earning more than $150,000 a year, generating about $1.6 billion in additional funding for schools across the state, including around $150 million for DPS.

A community committee, made up of a diverse group of educators, parents and community leaders, came together over the past several weeks to discuss what DPS’ funding priorities should be if Amendment 73 passes. The committee presented its recommendations to the board tonight, focusing on how additional funding could be used to help DPS better serve our students and teachers — such as increasing teacher pay, supporting higher needs students and expanding early childhood education opportunities.

If approved, DPS has proposed adding $36 million to teacher compensation in addition to the approximately 15% average teacher compensation increase over three years DPS committed to pay under the five-year contract that DPS and DCTA worked hard to reach just last fall. DPS and DCTA will meet together next week to negotiate the proposal, as well as what to do should the ballot initiative not pass.

Board members voiced strong support for the committee’s recommendations, including that the largest share of the funds should be committed to teacher and staff compensation. The board will vote on the recommendations Thursday; educators are welcome to sign up for public comment at the board meeting. A draft resolution the board will consider is available here.

As Michelle Garrison, teacher at Farrell B. Howell and one of several DPS teachers on the committee noted, “Schools are a part of our community. They produce great citizens and adults. We need our community to support that. It’s a part of democracy.”

You can learn more about school funding and how DPS currently spends the resources we have to ensure Every Child Succeeds.You can learn more about the pros and cons of Amendment 73 in the state’s Ballot Information Booklet.

Update on Early Literacy: A Foundation for Success

Students who are reading and writing proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to graduate. That’s why the second goal of the Denver Plan 2020 — a foundation for success in school — is critically important. The goal is that by 2020, at least 80% of DPS third-graders will be at or above grade level in reading and writing. Board members have championed this work by supporting a robust approach to developing expertise across schools and community partner sites over the past three years.

The board heard an in-depth update on the district’s early literacy strategy as the foundation for students’ entire academic experience. Early literacy, which DPS defines as reading, writing, speaking and listening, is essential to building a strong foundation for success in school and in life.

In order to achieve this goal and improve outcomes, DPS created the Early Literacy Plan and is participating in the Road to Reading initiative. This collaboration between the Mayor’s Office of Children’s Affairs, DPS and numerous community partners created the Birth to Eight Roadmap to ensure Denver children are prepared to enter school ready to learn and thrive.

The board reviewed key takeaways from 2017-18 early literacy data, and implications on our 2018-19 implementation.

The board also heard from community and school partners on successes and barriers to early literacy, including:

  • Michelle Jeske, Denver Public Library
  • Emily Bustos, Denver Early Childhood Council
  • Erin Brown, City of Denver Office of Children’s Affairs
  • Karla Maraccini, Mile High United Way
  • Kayla Grayson-Yizar, Principal, Florida Pitt- Waller
  • Diana Blau, Dean of Instruction, Math and Science Leadership Academy
  • Kevin King, Instructional Superintendent, Network 3

You can read the full board report here.