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The Rest of the Story: Rumor vs. Truth

Rumor vs. Truth
September 24, 2014

Rumor:  Public comment during Board of Education meetings has been cut. Parents no longer have a voice in the District.

Truth:  Public comment allows community members to speak on any action item listed on the agenda. In addition, the community can also speak on any topic of their choice at the end of the meeting. Finally, any community member can call or email Board of Education Directors at any time. Director emails are listed prominently on the District website.

Rumor:  Teacher and principal turnover is at an all-time high.

Truth:  After two years of pay-for-performance implementation, the results speak for themselves. Over the last two years, DCSD has offered some of the biggest raises along the Colorado Front Range. In addition, the District’s retention numbers are very impressive. In 2014, DCSD had a total teacher turnover rate of 13.1%. Perhaps most impressive, the District retained 94% of teachers rated as ‘Highly Effective’ and 90.4% of teachers rated as ‘Effective.’ There was a 100% turnover of ‘Ineffective’ teachers and a nearly 30% turnover of ‘Partially Effective’ teachers. Learn more here:  https://eboardsecure.dcsdk12.org/attachments/1d7fb0de-cb3c-42a9-b0a1-06fedd841fdb.pdf

Rumor:  District Communications/PR Department spending has increased 2,032% since 2010. 

Truth:  Yes, communications spending is up. The re-design and launch of a new District website is the largest expenditure recently undertaken by the Community Relations Department.  With the launch of a new, improved website, DCSD delivered a tool that makes staying in touch and in-the-know easier than ever. The new site offers improved transparency, better navigation, and great content. This was the first website refresh in three years. Technology changes rapidly and we want to take advantage of new developments for the sake of efficiency and content delivery. Learn more here: https://www.dcsdk12.org/community-relations/dcsd-launches-new-improved-district-website

The Douglas County School District is committed to providing our stakeholders, including parents, employees, students and community members, with updated and accurate information. We know that people have different preferences on how they receive news, emergency notifications and other updates. Since 2011, DCSD has developed new tools and new ways to connect with stakeholders including telephone town halls, the DCSD mobile app, DougTV, Board Briefing, and many others. Learn more here: https://www.dcsdk12.org/community-relations/our-communication-avenues

Rumor:  The Douglas County School District was found guilty of violating Fair Campaign Practices in the 2013 Board of Education election.

Truth:  A candidate for the Board of Education filed six campaign finance violations against DCSD. An Administrative Law Judge ruled in the District’s favor on five allegations under the campaign finance act, finding that there was absolutely no basis for those complaints. 

In the lone claim in which the Administrative Law Judge found a violation, the District respectfully disagrees and appealed that decision. The judge seems to have concluded that it is a violation of law anytime the District disseminates positive news involving its education policy agenda, if there are also candidates for the school board who support that agenda. We do not believe this is what the law states, as it would silence all public entities for months on end. In fact, this would effectively muzzle all public bodies in the future. The District has an obligation to communicate with our stakeholders and our citizens have a right to hear from us.

Rumor:  Our schools face $275 million of unbudgeted maintenance needs with no plan to fund.

Truth:  The DCSD Master Capital Plan details $275 million of maintenance needs that includes items such as roof repair, carpet replacement, and new furnaces. This fall, members of the Long Range Planning Committee and District leaders are seeking community input and examining options to fund needs.  Learn more here: https://www.dcsdk12.org/master-capital-plan and here: https://www.dcsdk12.org/facilities

Rumor:  Tens of millions of tax dollars have been spent on failing reforms and pet projects.  Meanwhile, basic classroom needs are not being funded.

Truth:  Over the last three years, DCSD has increased the percentage of every dollar that is going directly to the classroom. In 2009, 60.89% of every dollar went into classrooms. Even with budget cuts, DCSD now puts more of every dollar into the classroom. In 2013, 62.83% of every dollar went to classrooms. Learn more here: https://www.dcsdk12.org/district/transparency

Rumor:  Student achievement is declining.

Truth:  The results speak for themselves. DCSD continues to outpace the state in both TCAP and the ACT. Our graduation rate continues an upward trend and now sits at 88.8% Highlands Ranch and Ponderosa high schools outscored several of the world’s best countries on the international PISA tests. Learn more here: https://www.dcsdk12.org/community-relations/were-world-class-pisa-proves-it

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