DCSD Bond/MLO committee ‘cautiously optimistic’ as election approaches

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Donations and vocal support for the Douglas County School District’s $450 million bond and $60 million levy override funding issues continue to mount as the election approaches.

According to the committee’s Oct. 4 financial reports provided by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, the Invest in DCSD committee raised nearly $8,500 for materials and advertising to educate voters and garner support. Invest in DCSD founder Christa Gilstrap said donations are stable, although the committee hasn’t raised as much as it had hoped.

Beyond dollar contributions, Gilstrap said the committee’s volunteer base is growing and interactions with voters remain positive.

“I’m cautiously optimistic and I feel like everyone I speak to personally supports me with a few exceptions,” Gilstrap said. “We’re definitely getting a lot of broad support and we’re seeing enthusiasm building.”

The entire $60 million mill levy cancellation will be used to compensate teachers and staff, while the $450 million bond is dedicated to building three new elementary schools and upgrading and maintaining district buildings.

Notably, several district employees, 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 Dollars from Board Member Elizabeth Hanson, $140 from Board Member David Ray, $100 from Board Member Becky Myers, and $100 from Board Member Christy Williams.

Financial reports show that Invest in DCSD has spent around $400 so far. Gilstrap said she plans to focus spending on digital and print ads in the last phase before the election to reach as many voters as possible.

“We’re still playing the game of getting the message to enough voters before November 8,” she said.

Support within the district appears to be near universal, with the Mill Bond Oversight Committee, District Accountability Committee, Financial Oversight Committee, and numerous School Accountability Committees supporting the Bonds and MLO.

Several municipalities also offered formal approval by passing resolutions in support of bond and MLO funding, including the Highlands Ranch Metro District, the cities 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, the local teachers’ union, also issued letters in favor of the funding.

In its statement, the Douglas County Federation acknowledged concerns about trust in the school board, but ultimately encouraged voters to support funding, which the district is asking for primarily due to the need for better staff compensation and to accommodate growth in certain parts of the quarter.

“The Douglas County Federation supports the funding to pay the Douglas County School District staff a living wage, and we support the funding effort to provide the three new schools that we know we need now,” said Kevin DCF President DiPasquale to Colorado Community Media over the phone.

Should the bond/MLO pass, DiPasquale hopes the board will prioritize spending transparency and engage employees in discussions about improving salaries and benefits.

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