Superintendent: MLO/Bond Update January 2019

Superintendent: MLO/Bond Update January 2019
Posted on 01/18/2019

Douglas County School District community,

It is hard to believe that it’s already been two months since members of the Douglas County community voted yes on ballot measures 5A (Mill Levy Override) and 5B (Bond). As promised, we will keep you up-to-date on how your tax dollars are being spent. Regular updates will include information about new developments regarding expenditures of Mill Levy Override and Bond Dollars.

5A - 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 will collect the $40 million through property taxes each year.

Here is a look at how MLO funds have been utilized since the election:

COMPENSATION

$17 million is being used for staff compensation and benefits (excluding Superintendent and Cabinet). DCSD is using these funds to make a positive impact on our employees regarding compensation. Although this helps begin to narrow the gap between our school district and neighboring districts, we know there is still work to do and this process is ongoing.

  • At the DCSD Board of Education meeting following the election, Human Resources reviewed its recommendations of compensation adjustments for each employee group (excluding the DCSD Superintendent and Cabinet). The Board of Education approved these recommendations allowing staff to receive pay increases, retroactive to the beginning of the school year, in their January 2019 paychecks. Read more about the compensation increases.
  • To understand the full picture surrounding compensation increases, it’s important to note that some DCSD staff also received pay increases in the months leading up to the passage of 5A. In addition, DCSD’s licensed staff (including teachers) who were continuously employed by DCSD since 2008, also received increases to compensate them for years in which they may have experienced a pay freeze. These adjustments were paid out at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. Each of these increases was taken into consideration when creating the compensation plan to be paid with MLO dollars.

Bus driver and transportation assistant starting pay was increased. DCSD is proactively working to fill vacant bus driver positions, as it takes up to six months for new drivers to complete training. More information about these positions and how to apply is available online.

MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

  • $3.5 million is being used to add counselors at the elementary school level. Some of our elementary schools have begun the hiring process, while others are gearing up to hire counselors for the 2019-2020 school year.  
  • $2.5 million is being used to reduce the middle and high school counselor-to-student ratio in DCSD. Some of our middle and high schools have started the hiring process, while others are gearing up to hire counselors for the 2019-2020 school year.  

CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION

$2 million 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 Collaboration Campus initiative, as well as developing new partnerships with organizations including the Parker Area Chamber of Commerce.

SCHOOL-LEVEL FUNDING

$7 million will go toward school-level funding.

CHARTER SCHOOLS

Approximately $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.

5B - Bond ($250 Million)

Ballot question 5B allows DCSD to sell bonds and generate $250 million in one-time funds for capital needs such as security upgrades, facility repairs, classroom furnishings, buses and technology.

Prior to the bond, DCSD’s Planning and Construction team put much time and research into developing the current Master Capital Plan, as well as the costs associated with all of the tiered capital needs throughout the school district. Once the bond dollar amount was determined by the DCSD Board of Education, this team went to work to determine how to resolve as many immediate needs as possible. DCSD set a budget that addresses a portion of Master Capital Plan needs at all schools built before 2008 (including charter schools), in addition to I.T., furniture, support facilities, transportation and many other district-wide improvements.

Shortly before the bond election, DCSD sent out a Request for Proposals (RFP) for an Owner’s Construction Representative firm to assist our internal team with managing the projects (hiring an Owner’s Construction Representative is common practice when a school district passes a bond). Once the bond passed, we shortlisted firms and made a final selection for recommendation to the Board. Also following the election, DCSD’s Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer developed a strategy to sell the approved bonds and use the funds in as efficient a manner as possible.

There have been many conversations regarding the approach to Career and Technical Education (in schools or as a separate facility), alternative education needs, the Castle View High School expansion, and all of the other Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) packages across the district. Throughout the month of December 2018, DCSD built construction schedules, discussed procurement of design and contractor teams, and confirmed budgets.

After selling the bonds (end of January/early February 2019), DCSD will send out RFPs to its pre-qualified architects to start design on the first eight CIP packages, as well as the Castle View High School expansion.

In early February, DCSD will invite contractors, via a second procurement process, to help with pre-construction efforts and the remaining work to be implemented in 2020. Additionally, DCSD is identifying vendors for roof replacements, carpet replacements, athletic field improvements, bleacher replacements, fire alarm system upgrades, door hardware security upgrades, and mechanical control upgrades. Much of this work will take place this summer, when schools are mostly empty.

Mill Bond Oversight Committee

DCSD is in the process of forming a community Mill Bond Oversight Ad-Hoc Committee (MBOC). That committee will be made up of community members who 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. DCSD received over 150 applications from those interested in serving on the MBOC. Applicants will be interviewed in late January/early February and committee members will be selected by February 19.

I recognize this is a lot of information, but my team is 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 funding from 5A and 5B. Again, thank you for your support of our students and staff!

Sincerely,


Thomas S. Tucker, Ph.D.
Superintendent
Douglas County School District

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