Air conditioning, faculty nurses: How Denver might spend extra cash from poll measures if voters agree

Air conditioning in 20 extra colleges, extra faculty nurses, and a complete highschool in Montbello: A committee has really helpful Denver Public Schools fund these initiatives and extra if voters approve a pair of faculty tax measures this fall.

It’s not sure the tax measures will seem on November’s poll. The Denver faculty board is ready to determine subsequent month whether or not to ask voters to approve an $801 million bond measure and a mill levy override of both $25 million or $50 million.

Approving the bond and the decrease mill levy override wouldn’t trigger taxes to go up, mentioned Jim Carpenter, the chief monetary officer for Denver Public Schools. Because property values in Denver have risen, protecting the tax fee flat might generate sufficient income, he mentioned.

However, a $50 million mill levy override might elevate property taxes by about 2.6%, assuming property values maintain regular, Carpenter mentioned.

In normal, bond measures will pay for college development, whereas mill levy override funds cowl programming. Denver voters have in previous years accredited comparable faculty tax measures, however the present financial downturn makes the end result much less sure this yr.

A 75-person committee narrowed a protracted listing of attainable tasks to these the district ought to fund if Denver voters approve the tax measures. The committee thought-about every challenge’s affect on college students from low-income households, college students with disabilities, and college students studying English as a second language, and gave larger precedence to tasks that might profit them.

According to a committee presentation final month, the bond tasks it chosen embody:

Renovating or rebuilding the Montbello High School campus

This is in response to revived curiosity in reopening a complete highschool within the Montbello neighborhood, which the superintendent has committed to doing. The former Montbello High was changed 10 years in the past with smaller colleges.

The funding would go towards both renovating the prevailing 1980 constructing or setting up a brand new faculty on the location.

Installing air con in 20 colleges that lack it

In all, 55 of Denver’s greater than 150 faculty buildings received’t have air conditioning subsequent yr. That poses a specific downside within the fall, when outside temperatures can attain close to 100 levels. Some academics and oldsters are doubly frightened this yr about the potential for college students and employees having to put on masks to guard towards coronavirus in scorching school rooms.

Adding air con to 20 faculty buildings would nonetheless depart 35 buildings with out it. See the field for a listing of the 20 faculty buildings the committee recommends obtain it.

Buying land within the far northeast Gateway neighborhood

This is among the final remaining neighborhoods in Denver with house to construct new houses. Development is progressing, which implies the district will probably want new colleges there.

Expanding scholar entry to computer systems and residential web

This will likely be particularly vital if rising coronavirus circumstances trigger studying to shift on-line, as occurred this previous spring. Lack of internet access and an preliminary scarcity of units had been limitations to some college students persevering with their training at dwelling.

School upkeep and upgrades

This would come with changing outdated gear, in addition to upgrading 15 preschool playgrounds, constructing new center faculty science labs, increasing classroom house for profession and technical packages, and several other different tasks.

The committee is recommending the district spend mill levy override cash on:

Raises for low-wage employees and different compensation

Teachers and hourly wage workers, together with bus drivers, custodians, and instructor’s aides, would get a further 0.5% pay elevate subsequent yr if voters move a mill levy override, in line with latest offers reached with unions representing district workers.

Denver Public Schools might additionally use this cash to extend its minimal wage. A city ordinance requires Denver employers to pay $15.87 per hour by 2022.

Hiring extra faculty nurses

This previous faculty yr, only 15% of Denver campuses had a nurse 5 days per week. Particularly regarding amid a pandemic, 35% of faculties had a nurse on campus simply sooner or later per week.

School nurses will play an vital function in monitoring coronavirus circumstances if college students and academics return to in-person studying, as is the district’s current plan for the autumn.

Hiring extra faculty counselors, psychologists, and social employees

This is a perennial want that will enhance as college students take care of stress brought on by the pandemic and rising youth gun violence. Past mill levy overrides have helped rent extra psychological well being employees in colleges, however principals and academics say it’s nonetheless not sufficient.

Additional funding for particular training providers

About 11% of Denver college students obtain particular training providers. After the state training division discovered the district was violating some students’ rights to one-on-one help from a instructor’s aide, extra college students requested that kind of help. The variety of younger college students who want speech language remedy additionally has elevated.

The Denver faculty board will in the end determine which tasks to incorporate, although board members typically observe the committee’s suggestions.

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