Douglas County Schools superintendent hopeful voters will pass bond, mill levy override

Funding would ease concerns of teacher retention


With less than two weeks until the election, Douglas County School District Superintendent Erin Kane is feeling positive about the fate of the $60 million mill levy override and $450 million bond on the ballot. 

In the last few months, Kane said she has done more than a hundred events to spread the word about the need for the funding to pay staff more competitively, build the first new neighborhood schools since 2010 and expand career and technical education opportunities.

“I feel like we have done everything possible over the last four to five months to educate voters on how our district is funded and what the implications of the funding means for us,” she said. 

Kane acknowledged obstacles to the funding questions passing, such as rising inflation and a majority of voters that don’t have students in the schools, but said she feels the district and the school board have taken the needed steps to make the questions successful. 

Polling done by the district earlier this year showed only about 40% of voters supported the idea of a bond and mill levy override.

“We absolutely know it’s a challenging environment, but I think when the board made the decision to put the questions on the ballot, the board was expressing that they felt there’s some urgency around this situation for our schools,” she said. 

When it comes to the cost of the mill levy override for taxpayers, the district calculated it at $52 per year -- or $1 per week -- for each $100,000 in home value as determined by the assessor’s office. For a house valued at $500,000, the annual cost would be $255.

Passing the bond would maintain current property taxes, but residential property taxes would decrease $10 per year for each $100,000 of home value if the bond fails. 

Should the mill levy override pass, the school board has already approved a salary schedule to increase teacher pay by an average of 9%, non-licensed staff would see an average 8% increase and starting salaries would increase around 10% to 12%.

“It will help us be very competitive with JeffCo and Littleton public schools and it will get us about halfway to the distance between us and Cherry Creek schools,” Kane said. “I anticipate it will help us hold on to our folks.”

If approved by voters, the bond would go to building three new elementary schools, as well as improving and maintaining the district’s other 111 buildings. Kane called the district’s capital assets a “never-ending” investment.

“Continuing to be able to take care of our buildings benefits every single child in the district,” she said. 

If the funding questions don’t pass, Kane said it's not a world-ending situation, but the district wouldn't be able to raise pay or build new schools. 

“If (the mill levy override) doesn’t pass, we don’t have the ability to pay competitively to our neighbors and we’ll continue to struggle with that,” she said. 

Kane said that if the bond and mill levy override don’t pass this year, it’s likely district staff will recommend to the school board to put funding questions on the 2023 ballot. 

“I would anticipate staff would continue to communicate the urgency of our situation to the board,” she said.

DCSD bond and mill levy override, election 2022, Douglas County school funding, Erin Kane


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