DPS board approves budget amid $64 million shortfall

DENVER (KDVR) — The Denver Public Schools Board of Education approved a budget for the upcoming school year as it faced a $64 million financial gap amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget stayed away from layoffs and major disruptions to classrooms. 

In April, DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova said she hoped to make cuts without having to touch people’s jobs. At the time, she discussed the possibility of furloughs, pay freezes and not giving out cost-of-living increases with the school board.

On Monday, the school board voted on a budget that will mean pay cuts to the highest earners. That includes a 10% pay cut to Cordova. Staff members who earn less than $25 an hour will still get cost-of-living increases. In fact, 99% of employees will receive pay increases, with 45% receiving 3% or more.

DPS had recently asked its teachers’ union to renegotiate its latest contract because of the “unprecedented budgetary shortfall” from COVID-19.

A large chunk of the cuts are happening at the central office to the tune of $18 million. The budget avoided cuts that would have massive impacts to kids in the classroom by not reducing school budgets.

Board members are hopeful voters will support measures that could improve funding for the district this November. Those measures include the Gallagher Amendment, which according to the board, would adjust current ratios between state and local shares of School Finance Act funding.

They are also looking to the Nicotine Tax, which would be a gradual tax increase over seven years on nicotine products to provide additional revenue for the state.

There is also the Fair Tax Act, which according to the board, would create a new income tax bracket to increase tax revenue for the state. They would also support a DPS 2020 Bond and Mill Levy Override.