D38 Elevates: Exploring A Solution To Competitive Compensation

  • the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 logoGuided by the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Strategic Plan, district leadership seeks to pursue action that is right for students, the D38 community and the future of the region. Given the current landscape of public education, D38 and its Board of Education unanimously opted to move forward with asking taxpayers to consider a tax increase to fund educator salaries. 

    D38 continues to face major hiring and retention challenges. After losing 20 percent of our staff at the end of the 2020-2021 school year, which equates to 150 individuals, D38 embarked upon a hiring blitz. This proved challenging, and we had multiple positions go unfilled throughout the school year. Moving into the end of the 2021-2022 school year, similar conditions presented themselves. D38 sought to hire more than 80 licensed positions alone entering 2022, and the district is experiencing many individuals declining positions due to pay.


    Useful Information:

    D38 Compensation Evaluated

    Following an in-depth evaluation led by the district Human Resources department, verified by a third-party consultant, we learned that our compensation is falling behind districts in our region, and our region lags behind state compensation, as well as national compensation. Focusing on what we can control in our region, we evaluated 10 surrounding districts, learning pay is under market value for our faculty, staff and administrators across the board. This averages 10%, but varies between 0 and 35% for all district positions, from classified staff to teachers to administrators. 

    Fiscal Responsibility

    We care deeply about fiscal responsibility, and while we do so quietly, we have petitioned the state to boost our funding commensurate with the rate our constituents are taxed. We are one district out of more than 170 districts, and our voice is one of many asking for funding increases. To this point, we seek to share that while tax burdens increase each year for our residents, D38 does not automatically receive these tax dollars. Through certain factors, the state receives these tax dollars, adjusts budgets and determines how much each school district will receive. One factor, the Budget Stabilization factor, withholds about 4 million in funding per year on average from D38. 


    D38 is doing more with less. Compared to our surrounding districts, D38 has the second-lowest base funding per pupil at $9,050 per student in 2022-2023. Factoring in additional funding sources across all districts (including the 1999 MLO in D38), D38 is funded at the lowest rate of all regional districts, and would need about $900 to get to average with the region.

    This funding disparity is something we are used to, and it has led us to increase teacher pay at a lower rate. Presently, we are third to last in average teacher pay and bottom of the barrel in new teacher pay. New teacher pay at D38 is still under $40,000 per year. 

    We know there may be a perception of waste within the district, and while some small funds could certainly be stripped from programs, activities and curriculum, D38 spends 80 percent of its budget on salaries, with 90 percent of that spending going to non-administrator pay. We employ 750 team members, and we know that a strong district, which can elevate the future of our region, starts with ensuring we attract and importantly retain these quality educators and leaders. 

  • Does the district have to spend the funds on teacher and support staff compensation?

  • Is this supported by both D38 and MA?

  • I've heard confusion over how many students or what funding D38 has historically received per pupil, can you clear that up?

  • Who will compensation increases impact, and will they be across the board?

  • Did D38 Conduct A Survey About A Potential Ballot Initiative?

  • Where Does D38 Rank In Terms Of Funding & Teacher Pay?

  • Does D38 Spend Money Wisely?

  • Is D38 Truly Working To Stretch Every Dollar?

  • Does D38 Lobby The State?

  • Is D38 High Performing?

  • Will D38 Maintain Its Standing Moving Forward?

  • Fiscal Impact Of Increased Taxes

    D38 does not desire to increase taxes at this time, but the district is at a critical point in its history, with teachers and staff reaching a point where quality may decrease moving forward. 

    In order to help estimate the impact of a potential tax increase that would impact staff salaries, mostly teacher pay, D38 seeks to explain the measure. The proposed measure would increase discretionary mill levy rates by 7.450 mills, which, according to updated assessments, would net $4.5 million for D38 to address educator compensation and $1 million for Monument Academy to tackle the same goal.

    To understand homeowner impact, we've prepared a calculator below:



    We've prepared a calculator designed to help those who are versed in Colorado property taxes, and those who are not, understand the impact of this tax increase, should it pass. To use the calculator below, you can enter one of three figures. You may input what you know your home is valued at by a retail/real estate website like Zillow on line 1, or you may skip to line 3 or 5 and input what the El Paso County Assessor values your property at. Please note the Assessor uses an Assesor-defined Market Value to determine Actual Value (AV). On average in our region, the Assessor values homes at about 35% less than retail/real estate websites. If you have a paper tax bill handy, you will likely quickly find AV, and you can input that figure on Line 5

    You can find out what your property is valued at here.

  • NOTE: Seniors (those 65 and older) who have lived in their home for 10 years are eligible for a 50% reduction in the first $200,000 of value on property taxes. Please read more here.