D38 Elevates: Exploring A Solution To Market-Rate Compensation, Keeping D38 Competitive
Guided 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 are discussing the difficult decision of asking taxpayers to approve 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 exist. We're currently hiring for more than 60 positions, and the district is experiencing many individuals declining positions due to pay.
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.
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 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 $8,500 per student in 2021-2022. Factoring in additional taxes across all districts (including the 1999 MLO in D38), D38 remains funded at the second-lowest rate of all districts at just over $9,000 per student.
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.
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 taxes $5.2 million, or 7.5 mills. To understand homeowner impact, we've prepared a calculator below: