Donations and vocal support for the Douglas County School District’s $450 million bond and $60 mill levy override funding questions continues to grow as the election nears.
According to the Oct. 4 committee finance reports provided by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, the Invest in DCSD committee has raised almost $8,500 for materials and ads to educate voters and gain support. Invest in DCSD founder Christa Gilstrap said donations are steady, though the committee hasn’t raised as much as it had hoped.
Beyond dollar contributions, Gilstrap said the committee’s volunteer numbers are growing and voter interactions remain positive.
“I’m cautiously optimistic and I feel like everyone I talk to in person is supportive with few exceptions,” Gilstrap said. “We’re definitely getting a lot of broad support and we’re seeing enthusiasm pick up.”
The entirety of the $60 million mill levy override will go to teacher and staff compensation, while the $450 million bond is dedicated to building three new elementary schools and upgrading and maintaining district buildings.
Notably, several ditrict staff, teachers and school board members have donated hundreds to the Invest in DCSD campaign, including $500 from Superintendent Erin Kane, $100 from board member Mike Peterson, $125 from board member Susan Meek, $100 from board member Elizabeth Hanson, $140 from board member David Ray, $100 from board member Becky Myers and $100 from board member Christy Williams.
Finance reports show Invest in DCSD has spent around $400 so far. Gilstrap said she’s planning to focus spending on digital and print ads going into the final stretch before the election to reach as many voters as possible.
“We’re still playing the game of can we get the message to enough voters before November 8th,” she said.
Support within the district seems almost universal with the Mill Bond Oversight Committee, the District Accountability Committee, the Financial Oversight Committee and numerous school accountability committees endorsing the bond and MLO.
Multiple municipalities also offered formal approval by passing resolutions in support of the bond and MLO funding, including the Highlands Ranch Metro District, the towns of Parker and Castle Rock and the City of Lone Tree.
Douglas County Commissioner Abe Laydon, Mile High United Way and the Douglas County Federation, which is the local teachers union, all published letters in favor the funding as well.
In their statement, the Douglas County Federation acknowledged concerns around trust with the the school board, but ultimately encouraged voters to support the funding, which the district is asking for largely due to the need for better staff compensation and to accommodate growth in certain parts of the district.
“Douglas County Federation supports funding to pay staff members of Douglas County School District a living wage and we support the funding measure to provide for the three new schools we know we need right now,” said Kevin DiPasquale, president of DCF, told Colorado Community Media in a phone interview.
Should the bond/MLO pass, DiPasquale hopes the board will prioritize transparency in spending and including staff in conversations about improving salaries and benefits.