Superintendent: MLO/Bond Update April 2019

Superintendent: MLO/Bond Update April 2019
Posted on 04/01/2019

Following the passage of the Mill Levy Override (MLO) and Bond initiatives this past November, I committed to providing the community with regular updates about how that money is being invested into our school district. Below are the latest updates about the $40 million Mill Levy Override and $250 million Bond.

Mill Levy Override ($40 Million)

Mill Levy Override (MLO) funding is generally used for operational needs such as salaries, staffing and student programming. Douglas County School District will collect the $40 million through property taxes each year.

Here is a look at how MLO funds have been utilized so far.

COMPENSATION

As I shared in my update of January 2019, $17 million is being used for staff compensation and benefits (excluding Superintendent and Cabinet). We know that, while this $17 million begins to narrow the pay gaps between our school district and our neighboring school districts, there is still a lot of work to be done regarding compensation, and this is a work in progress. Read more about the compensation increases. Here’s what is currently being done.

In December 2018, the DCSD Board of Education passed a resolution outlining its values regarding employee compensation.

In February 2019, our Human Resources Department, along with the DCSD Employee Council (made up of DCSD teachers, administrators, professional/technical and classified employees from across the school district) began working together on the following next steps for developing a new pay structure for our school district:

  • A salary study is under way to provide us with research-based data for a multitude of staff positions, and to compare our salary structures to other districts across the state.
  • DCSD will partner with an outside consultant to help us determine the compensation needs of our school district. The work over time will include: analyzing current salaries and education level and experience; gathering input and ideas from our employee groups; developing a compensation structure which meets the Board of Education's resolution; determining the budgetary implications due to any proposed salary changes; and communicating the proposed plan when compensation structures are finalized.
  • Compensation recommendations will be formed in Employee Council, with a compensation sub-group of Employee Council members, and via gathering input from our employees. Recommendations will be shared with our Superintendent and Board of Education for final decision-making.
  • Due to the layers and complexity of creating this new system, please know it will take time and we ask for your patience. We feel the urgency of this critical task. However, we must conduct our due diligence and take the time needed to get this right. We anticipate that the development of a new compensation structure will be a work in progress for most of the 2019-2020 school year.

MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

We are ramping up efforts to recruit additional counselors for our elementary, middle and high schools. You can help us spread the word. If you know someone who would make a great counselor, please share this recruiting video with them.
  • $3.5 million of the MLO is being used to add counselors at the elementary school level.
  • $2.5 million of the MLO is being used to reduce the middle and high school counselor-to-student ratio in DCSD.

CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION

$2 million of the MLO is being used to increase career and trade focused student programming, and hire certified staff members for Career and Technical Education courses. DCSD is currently exploring ways to increase Career and Technical Education opportunities for our students. For example, we are expanding upon community partnerships with the Sturm Collaboration Campus initiative, as well as developing new partnerships with organizations including the Parker Area Chamber of Commerce. View the presentation to the Board of Education from February 19 to learn more about our efforts to expand Career and Technical Education offerings.

SCHOOL-LEVEL FUNDING

Over $7 million will go toward school-level funding. These funds will be distributed depending on individual school needs. This includes increasing funding for students who qualify for free or reduced lunch, and adding money for small schools. Learn more by watching this presentation to the Board of Education from January 8.

CHARTER SCHOOLS

Over $8 million of the MLO was passed through to DCSD charter schools on an equal, per pupil basis. Charter school leaders have the discretion to use the funds as they wish.

Bond ($250 Million)

In late January, DCSD sold $249,975,000 in general obligation bonds as approved by voters in the November 2018 election. The proceeds from the bonds provide one-time funds for capital needs such as security upgrades, facility repairs, classroom furnishings, buses and technology. Click here to read the full press release about the sale.

Total bond proceeds from the sale was approximately $289 million. While the face value of the bonds is just under $250 million, based on the credit strength of DCSD and the current interest rate environment, the school district’s bonds generated a premium, resulting in more funding for the school district to address additional capital needs. This does not impact DCSD’s pledge of a no-new-taxes bond.

Hopefully you’ve seen some of the “Thank You” signage going up at schools across DCSD. More will be installed this month. These signs let our voters know how each school is benefiting from bond funds, which is an important piece of our promise to provide the community with transparent information about how these taxpayer dollars are being used.
We are excited to share that bond work has officially begun! Over Spring Break, new flooring was installed in areas inside Ponderosa High School, Chaparral High School, and Eagle Ridge Elementary. Additionally, improvements to the heat exchangers at Shea Stadium have been completed. Mechanical controls work (the systems that control HVAC, etc. at each school) has started at Ranch View Middle School and Sagewood Elementary School.
This summer, roofing repairs will be completed at multiple schools. Bleacher repairs and flooring are also being contracted out for summer work. In addition, Mechanical Roof Top Unit (RTU) replacements (for heating and cooling) are being coordinated at some charter schools, and final approvals for a new turf field at Legend High School have been received and work is scheduled for completion this summer.

Here are a few additional updates:
  • Three architects have been selected for the first round of school renovations, and initial site visits have begun.
  • The procurement process for Construction Manager/General Contractors (CMGCs) is in progress.
  • Kickoff meetings with design teams are being scheduled. These meetings will involve each school’s principal, School Accountability Committee and building engineer, as well as the DCSD Operations and Maintenance, and Planning and Construction staff.
  • Architects have been shortlisted and interviewed for the Castle View High School expansion, and a recommendation was provided to, and approved by, the Board of Education on April 2.
  • Architects have also been shortlisted for the new Alternative Education School and Career and Technical Education campus site master plan in Parker (Click here to view the presentation to the Board from February 19). Interviews for architects are being scheduled. An architect will be recommended to the Board of Education for approval in May.
  • We released a Design/Build Request for Qualifications and Proposal for capital renewal work at charter schools around the district and have reviewed proposals.
  • Preliminary budgets and schedules have been established for all of these projects.
Over the course of the Bond, specific information regarding work at each school can be found at www.dcsdk12.org/funding (then click “Bond Construction and Improvement Reports”). These reports will be updated at regular intervals. Our Bond Owner's Representative firm will also be preparing a quarterly report for our Mill Bond Oversight Ad Hoc Committee that will provide much more in-depth information regarding budgets, schedule and scope.

Mill Bond Oversight Ad Hoc Committee

DCSD recently formed its Mill Bond Oversight Ad Hoc Committee. This group of 20 individuals will become familiar with the 2018 Mill Levy Override and Bond program and project list, monitor the progress of the improvements and programs being implemented, ensure MLO/Bond expenditures are in alignment with ballot language approved by voters, and periodically report to the Board of Education the status of MLO/Bond expenditures. We sincerely thank the members of this committee for their service to our school district and community.

We are committed to keeping you updated on how Mill Levy Override and Bond funds are being used in DCSD. Please continue to visit www.dcsdk12.org/funding for the latest information. You are also always welcome to reach out to me, or a member of my staff, with any questions you may have regarding MLO/Bond funding. Again, thank you for your support of our students and staff!

Sincerely,
Thomas S. Tucker, Ph.D.
Superintendent

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