UPDATED 7:47 a.m., Nov. 10.
An update from Arapahoe County reveals, the school funding measure, or Ballot Question 4A, for the Englewood School District was approved by voters.
An update released around 6 p.m. on Nov. 9 shows 4,078, or 58.74%, approved the measure, while 2,865, or 41.26%, voted no.
Superintendent Joanna Polzin said she appreciates all who voted and she’s looking forward to utilizing the revenue stream to increase salaries for faculty and staff.
“We are truly grateful for the community’s support. This ballot measure, 4A, is a predictable, long-term source of revenue to offset costs of operations, maintenance, and technology, which means we can invest in competitive salaries for teachers and support staff – allowing Englewood Schools to retain highly skilled, talented teachers, maintain smaller class sizes, and continue to grow high-quality academic programs that keep Englewood great,” Polzin said.
Mary Cooper, executive director of budget and finance for the district, said the mill levy can only be used for capital construction, new and existing technology and operations and maintenance of the district.
The approved mill levy will allow the district to free up about $2.8 million dollars in their general fund that would usually be used for those costs.
“We expect that we’ll receive just under $3 million in this first part of the year from January to June and of that we’ll take half of it and overhaul salaries,” Cooper said. “Our team didn’t get pay raises like other school districts so we want to make sure that’s right first.”
Polzin said initially the district will use those freed up funds to pay for the already negotiated 5% increase in the base salaries of educators. She said that increase would go into effect Jan. 1 of 2024.
“For classified staff we’ll be adopting a new classified salary schedule which will be an investment of $675,000,” Polzin said. “For a minimum increase of 7.5% to their current pay rate.”
Polzin said that will also be effective Jan. 1 of 2024 as well as a 5% increase to administration staff salaries, totaling the district initial mill levy investment to $1.2 million dollars. She said the remaining funds will be used to sustain those increases.
Polzin said over the last five years the percentage comparison of budget cuts was about 15% across the district.
She said this year staffing, such as the district office and teachers, has mostly been impacted by budget reductions in terms of salary and the district has lost some staff to surrounding districts that pay more.
“Teachers did not receive a pay increase. They received their step on the schedule of the negotiated agreement but they did not receive any type of cost of living adjustment,” Polzin said.
Polzin said all staff, along with educators, did not receive an increase in pay this year.
“Unfortunately, we do not benefit from economies of scale,” she said. “Englewood prides itself on the small schools that personalize the educational experience for our students. It is what makes us a tight knit community.”
Polzin said there are about 201 teachers, 17 general education paraprofessionals and 29 special education paraprofessionals in the entire district.
The district still needs to analyze how it will use future funds from the mill levy to improve the district, Polzin said.
“We need to evaluate the overall health of the district after and we’re in the process right now of creating a capital improvements plan,” Polzin said. “So we need to get some of those things finalized in order to then do budgeting (in February).”
Polzin believes the mill levy will help with employee retention, including educators, general education paraprofessionals, special education professionals, bus drivers, custodians, nutrition services and staff.
School Board President Duane Tucker said a mill is “the amount of tax that (people) have to pay per dollar of assessed property value” which Polzin said equals about one one thousandth of a dollar.
The mill levy will generate $4 million in the first year, with the ability to increase by one mill annually, not to exceed a total of five mills each year.
Cooper said families have asked how the mill will impact property tax bills as assessed valuation has gone up.
“We’re able to do this debt free mill levy as a net neutral for our homeowners and our business owners,” Cooper said. “As with anything school finance the funding formula is complicated and it’s based on a number of variables but given assessed valuation has increased a lot the residential assessed value has decreased meaning that we can pass this without raising taxes.”
Polzin said she is grateful to all who helped with the campaign.
“I would like to thank everyone who volunteered and express my appreciation for their support. What we saw on a day-to-day basis during this campaign reflects the dedication of Englewood residents in supporting the students, families and educators of this community,” Polzin said. “The passing of 4A will allow us to continue to build a new tradition of excellence, building on what is special about this community and this school district.”
To view the results visit www.arapahoevotes.com.
Hey, friend! Before you go…
If you’re like us, you must enjoy good local journalism. So, if you’ve read this article and found it useful, would you consider supporting the work of our mighty local newsroom with either a one-time or recurring monthly gift? Every voluntary reader contribution is a direct investment in maintaining a strong, vibrant press in your community, an essential pillar of our democratic society. Local news. It’s a public good.