Lewis-Palmer School District 38 leaders, including Superintendent KC Somers and Chief Financial Officer Kitte Overton, painted a picture of tough compensation challenges during the Oct. 18 Board of Education meeting.
Somers and Overton presented under the umbrella of Priority 3 of the District Strategic Plan, Value Our People and Commit to Continuous Growth. After painting a picture of the current compensation of current staff compared to several similar local districts, Somers and Overton showcased how D38 funding breaks down compared to those districts. A few key points emerged, including:
- D38 is second from the bottom in per pupil revenue (PPR) in the local comparison. The difference ranges from between $535 to $3,600 more per pupil in neighboring districts. One reason for this difference is the investment by local communities in their local schools via a mill levy override. D38 has one of the lowest mill levy overrides of the districts in our comparison.
- The biggest expenditure in school operations is staff compensation, which represents nearly 80% of our total operating budget. Our ability to hire and retain staff is a function of our PPR, which is demonstrably lower than neighboring districts.
- D38 currently has the third lowest average teacher salary in our comparison, as well as the lowest starting teacher salary when comparing salary schedules. This is one factor contributing to higher turnover. D38 hovers around a 20% turnover rate, which is the third highest in our comparison.
- One measure for evaluating spending efficiency is comparing funded pupils per administrator. With a rate of 42.44 pupils per administrator, D38 is funding far fewer administrators per pupil than other comparable districts, meaning dollars are being focused on students and classrooms.
“Much like we have approached our staff for feedback while listening to thoughts and opinions, we will apply this method to generating solutions to our current investment conundrum, which has real impacts on our students and the future of our district,” Somers said.
Additional information around the budget, challenges and compensation will be discussed during the November Board of Education meeting. Leading up to that meeting, Somers said the district leadership team will begin engaging employees to continue the conversation, then branch out to engaging community stakeholders and beyond.
The entire presentation can be viewed online here.