As many in our community know, Lewis-Palmer School District 38 is doing all it can to create a stable, safe and conducive learning environment for the students of our region, and we are doing so while punching above our weight class in terms of funding versus achievement. I wrote in my last article that strong schools mean strong communities, and community investment is required to keep our schools as strong as possible.
In this new series, titled For the Record, I aim to address questions about a potential ballot initiative that would help D38 become competitive in compensation, with all new dollars being earmarked expressly for teachers and support staff. The following are two key topics I feel are currently under conversation and merit further discussion and clarification from our district. Attached here are some slides providing data and background on the answer to these questions:
Topic: Doesn’t D38 keep its teachers at a high rate? I’ve also heard only a few teachers leave for pay-related reasons.
Answer: Unfortunately, D38 has had a higher than average turnover rate the past few years. This year alone, we’ve worked around the clock to staff buildings for the start of school, and we still have several key teaching openings for the upcoming year. This work resulted in more than 80 new teacher hires, which represents more than 20% turnover among our licensed staff ranks.
In conversing with all teachers and support staff departing D38, pay is a primary topic of concern. Whether compensation is higher in other fields, or other districts pay more, it is a consistent driver of why we lose good teachers to other jobs. Additionally, as we seek to hire new teachers in a competitive market, we consistently hear that low pay is one of the main reasons teachers decline a job offer.
Topic: Looking at my tax bill, D38 receives a lion’s share of my tax dollars. Doesn’t this mean D38 is well funded?
Answer: D38 does receive a mix of local and state funds through the school finance act, in addition to $4 million from the 1999 MLO. However, our per pupil funding is between last and second to last in the region compared to 10 surrounding school districts. This challenge means other districts have the ability to compensate their staff better, and they retain staff at a higher rate as a result. The data show quality teachers make a difference in the growth of students, and we know recruiting and retaining the best teachers is the best way to support our students.
Our community values local control, and a direct investment in D38 by the local community is a commitment to D38 values and a strong education for our district’s students.
This series will continue so long as our community has questions they would like answered. If you have a question about this potential ballot initiative, we want to hear from you. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will answer your questions or schedule time to meet with you. You can also learn more by visiting www.lewispalmer.org/CompetitiveD38