Signals in DCSD Audits

As you probably know, teachers and classified staff are circulating a petition to bring back a collective bargaining agreement. If you haven’t already signed the petition, talk to others in your building or call us at the DCF office at 720-389-9829.

As we support this critical grassroots effort, we hear repeatedly many of the same questions regardless of the building members are visiting. I would like to quickly answer a few of the questions in this post.

  1. Why is it so important to have a collective bargaining agreement or CBA?

Teachers and staff must have an advocate at the table. Counting on others to represent you is not effective in ensuring your professional voice is heard. For example, when it comes to developing budgets, there are countless people representing every program and interest meeting with the superintendent and advocating for their financial needs. However, the groups that currently have no consequential voice in this process are the teachers and the classified staff. Think about it, the people most responsible for achieving the district’s core mission of educating the students are not represented in a meaningful way when it comes to the budgeting process.

  1. Can you show me how this makes a difference?

It is always hard to quantify the impact of any anything in a school district as large as Douglas County, but there are very strong signals that not having a CBA is having a significant impact on the staff. If you review the trend data in the audits (publicly available to anyone), there are some troubling results. Each year the audits show how much is actually spent on what is called “instructional services” by the district. As you can see from the graph below, when the teachers and staff lost collective bargaining, there was an immediate drop from about 54% to its current level of 49%. In other words, the piece of the pie that went to instructional service dropped by 5% in 5 short years. In an operating budget of over $579 million, that represents more than $26 million per year. That $26 million is now most likely being spent in other parts of the budget.

  1. What else do the audits show?

The district’s audits show how much money is budgeted for general items and how much money was actually spent. Following are the amounts budgeted, actually spent, and the variance for instructional services in the last six audits.

You will quickly notice that each and every year the amount budgeted for instructional services is never actually spent. That means the district budgets money into instructional services but doesn’t spend it for that purpose. A quick review of the ending balances in each of these years shows that many times this money is spent on other programs. This practice is misleading.

  1. Will have a CBA help with these trends?

YES. When you have a consequential voice at the table you can ask questions and advocate for your positions. You don’t have to hope someone is thinking about your interests. And this advocacy goes far beyond finances. You have a say in countless aspects of your working conditions and that translates directly to the learning conditions for students, such as class size. You have a voice in the type and quality of the professional development you receive. All of these reasons (and many more) are why every other metro Denver school district has a collective bargaining agreement for their educators. You should have a CBA too.

  1. What can I do to help get a CBA?

If there is a petition circulating in your building, sign it. If you are not sure call the DCF and ask one of the grassroots leaders to immediately come to your school and start the petition drive. Some may say the time is not right. If you want to see the trends in this district change, the time is now. Don’t hope for action, take action.