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Old 05-21-2010, 12:56 PM
 
Location: western Centennial, CO
622 posts, read 1,148,389 times
Reputation: 263
Quote:
Originally Posted by the3Ds View Post
Yes, but there is a difference in looking at the "per pupil spending" numbers and actually seeing money being spent in the classrooms. Throwing money at a problem rarely solves anything...whether you're talking about schools, the size of government or even someone in a financial mess.

Until I got involved in the school district and in our neighborhood schools, I really had no idea how much goes into a good education and how much behind-the-scenes stuff is done. Each school operates differently, even in the same school district. While the school district plays a role in the curriculum, everything...from the bathrooms to the art supplies are managed by the individual schools.

My daughter goes to an elementary school in CCSD and her experiences...from the IPODs being sent home with kids who are falling behind, to her THREE field trips just for 1st grade, to the fact she can join a marching band in 3rd grade and gets to chose from a wide variety of extracurricular activities...that's all because of the staff and parental support of our particular school. Our PTO makes a lot of money and has decided to give teachers an allotment every year to spend what they wish. I didn't know that wasn't the same for every school, but after attending a few district PTO meetings and talking to other PTO boards, this is not the case at all. We are one of a few schools who offer that and the teachers sometimes "pool" their money to do some pretty amazing stuff. That's what goes into a good education...it's not how much each district spends on the students...that doesn't take into account the bureaucracy that skims money off of the top.

However...the deeper cuts that some districts are going to have to make WILL affect the quality of education. Some districts have to cut over $50 MILLION. There is no way to do that "behind-the-scenes" which means that parents will have to pay for stuff like buses, extracurriculars, more school supplies being brought from home, and probably increasing class sizes, etc.
Great post! There are so many things that go into the educational process and it's good to see you are in a good situation. I hope the situation is similar here in the LPS when my children are school-age in a couple of years.

One of the problems I have is that the superintendent/leadership has become more of a political position in some districts rather than an adminstrative position (see our unelected Senator) and they lose sight of the education of the children. I think it's time to take back education from the politicians and special interests (see a certain school 'adopted' by a certain company) and make it about the children and making sure everybody has the same opportunity.
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Old 05-21-2010, 01:06 PM
 
5,748 posts, read 7,100,955 times
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I think DCSD got caught up in the housing bubble, just like the rest of the country. The district tried to get ahead of it by building new schools to handle the rapidly expanding community, and when the housing market crashed, they were left with a lot of of expensive infrastructure and little money to support it. We saw it happen in Castle Rock. New schools were built to support all the neighborhoods filled with young families that were sprouting like weeds across the southern part of the county. Year-round school was an effort to take the pressure off by allowing the extant schools to educate more kids than they were built to handle until construction of additional facilities was complete. The district was thinking ahead.

Very few people saw what was happening in the housing market and how much devastation the collapse would wreak. When the foreclosures hit like a tidal wave, struggling families had nothing to give. Voting records indicate that the levy passed in more established communities (e.g., HR), but in CR and Parker, where the housing crash had its greatest effect, the levy failed. So, demonize the administration if you must, but I think there's plenty of blame to go around.

Last edited by formercalifornian; 05-21-2010 at 01:29 PM..
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Old 05-21-2010, 01:33 PM
 
Location: western Centennial, CO
622 posts, read 1,148,389 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by formercalifornian View Post
I think DCSD got caught up in the housing bubble, just like the rest of the country. The district tried to get ahead of it by building new schools to handle the rapidly expanding community, and when the housing market crashed, they were left with a lot of of expensive infrastructure and little money to support it. We saw it happen in Castle Rock. New schools were built to support all the neighborhoods filled to the brim with young families that were sprouting like weeds across the southern part of the county. Then, the foreclosures hit, and struggling families had nothing to give. The voting records indicate that the levy passed in more established communities (e.g., HR), but in CR and Parker, where the housing crash had its greatest effect, the levy failed. So, blame poor administration if you must, but I think there's a lot more to it than that.
Good points on this. It was a sort of catch 22 for them - they had to build the schools to keep up with the growth but then it stopped.

BTW - I can tell where you're from because only a Denver Metroite (not a real word I know) would call Castle Rock southern Douglas County. It's not even halfway down!
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Old 05-21-2010, 01:38 PM
 
5,748 posts, read 7,100,955 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chilicheesefries View Post
BTW - I can tell where you're from** because only a Denver Metroite (not a real word I know) would call Castle Rock southern Douglas County. It's not even halfway down!
I accept your chastening. It's just that there isn't much in the way of significant growth south of Castle Rock. A little perhaps in Larkspur, but otherwise it's pretty barren from there to Monument Hill.

** I suspect we live in the same general area.
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Old 05-21-2010, 01:47 PM
 
Location: Aurora, Colorado
2,212 posts, read 3,066,126 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonwalkr View Post
BTW our CCSD meetings have always been packed for years, we go to the Campus/CCHS one.

Even way before this, with regards to class room size, I was concerned last fall when I noticed on a classroom reorganization schematic of my kid's school for 2010-2011 that perhaps a class would be cut. That's when the principal reassured me that there was no push on the board to increase class room size, and that it was a monumental task to make those changes.
I'm glad to hear your meetings are packed. The reality is that parental involvement is a HUGE reason why CCSD is a good school district. My experiences with district meetings have been at Smoky Hill High School and one at Grandview where I was one of less than 20 parents and the rest of the "audience" was teachers and personnel. So, I was pleasantly surprised to attend the budget shortfall meeting and be one of about 70 parents who attended. But, even with that being said, I see for myself at my kid's school that our PTO meetings are well attended, our restaurant night fundraisers and school activities are absolutely packed and people seem to genuinely take pride in our kids going to the neighborhood school. I love that there are tons of parents who bought and wear school spirit wear. The person who manages the Spirit Wear orders thought to add adult sizes to accomodate what she thought would be "a few orders." When the orders went in, there were 120 items ordered for adults. I think that's cool.

I've always tried to live my life so that no matter who's in political office, my family will be fine. We don't get help from the government so we're not in dire straights when things increase in price or benefits get cut. It's the same for schools. I am actively involved with my neighborhood school because a good quality school usually goes hand-in-hand with a good, quality neighborhood. I can't change what's happening in another school district so I work hard to make sure that I am active in the schools my kids will go to. When we looked for schools, we focused on CCSD and then searched for the best schools for our kids. Not a day goes by when I'm not grateful for our decision. I love the school, the teachers, the PTO board, the parents and the kids. Nothing is perfect but I recognize that they're pretty darn good.

Finally, CCSD HAS had to do some creative managing of finances. Our school goes year round and has a track system. They didn't do this because they loved the year-round schedule but because there are nearly 800 kids who go to our school and the building only holds about 500. The track system means that every day of the school year, there are kids who are on break and the teachers move around classrooms a few times per year and put their classes into vacant space. Our art class is held in a former supply closet! Our neighborhood attracts families and the schools are jammed. There is a new school going up nearby but won't affect the population of our elementary school so they have to make adjustments. I know that we're not unique in our school, even WAY before the state cut funding, they've had to do more with less. Yet, even with the odd schedule, there is still a waiting list of families to get in and our principal has had to put a hold on all kids asking to get in if they don't live in the boundaries.
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Old 05-21-2010, 02:01 PM
 
Location: Aurora, Colorado
2,212 posts, read 3,066,126 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by formercalifornian View Post
I think DCSD got caught up in the housing bubble, just like the rest of the country. The district tried to get ahead of it by building new schools to handle the rapidly expanding community, and when the housing market crashed, they were left with a lot of of expensive infrastructure and little money to support it. We saw it happen in Castle Rock. New schools were built to support all the neighborhoods filled with young families that were sprouting like weeds across the southern part of the county. Year-round school was an effort to take the pressure off by allowing the extant schools to educate more kids than they were built to handle until construction of additional facilities was complete. The district was thinking ahead.
I would also be curious to know how many parents voted NO on the DCSD bond/levy. Our neighborhood in CCSD overwhelmingly voted YES on ours and we are nowhere near as "wealthy" as Doug Co residents and certainly don't have a lot of money to just throw around. And, I would also love for those who are yelling about how unfair the fees for buses are, to be asked if they attended a budget meeting or if they voted for their levy. You can't complain if you don't participate and if you do participate and it still doesn't work out in your favor, sometimes you have to take one for the team.

There is a certain nonchalance among wealthy, white (it must be said) voters about schools. Most came from a decent background and have no idea what poorly performing schools are like. They take the fact that their kids will do "just fine" in school for granted and while that may be true in some cases, they are finding out fast that most schools operate on pretty bare-bones budgeting, most teachers spend a lot of money out of their own pocket for things, and PTOs give a lot of money to school "extras".

So when you vote NO on funding with the excuse that school boards make too much money or that there is too much waste in public education, it's the schools themselves that suffer first. No one, I noticed, is taking a salary decrease who works on the board of DCSD, and I doubt they will stop heading out on expensive out-of-state conferences and ordering overpriced catering for meetings. Even with the ridiculous boycott that DPS is doing over Arizona, it came out that their district conferences take place in Las Vegas. Taxpayer money being spent to send employees to Las Vegas. I'm not an expert on long-distance driving, but to get to Vegas from Denver, you drive across on the I-70 which takes you right by fabulous conference spots like Vail, Aspen, heck even Glenwood Springs! Even DPS doesn't bother to keep money in state, so I shudder to think of the waste that goes in to "managing" a school district.
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Old 05-21-2010, 02:09 PM
 
5,748 posts, read 7,100,955 times
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I suspect there are many reasons why people vote no, but in my previous neighborhood, I think much of it had to do with financial hardship. There was a 25% foreclosure rate on my street alone, and every one of those households had kids. The most financially-secure households were retired or single people, and they made up a significant portion of the owners on my street.

Quote:
Originally Posted by the3Ds View Post
Our neighborhood in CCSD overwhelmingly voted YES on ours and we are nowhere near as "wealthy" as Doug Co residents and certainly don't have a lot of money to just throw around.
People who know their house is going on the block don't typically take time to attend school board meetings. They're too busy trying to hold on for another month. Not everyone in DCSD is wealthy.

Last edited by formercalifornian; 05-21-2010 at 02:18 PM..
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Old 05-21-2010, 02:32 PM
 
Location: Aurora, Colorado
2,212 posts, read 3,066,126 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by formercalifornian View Post
I suspect there are many reasons why people vote no, but in my previous neighborhood, I think much of it had to do with financial hardship. There was a 25% foreclosure rate on my street alone, and every one of those households had kids. The most financially-secure households were retired or single people, and they made up a significant portion of the owners on my street.



People who know their house is going on the block don't typically take time to attend school board meetings. They're too busy trying to hold on for another month. Not everyone in DCSD is wealthy.
Not everyone is wealthy in CCSD either. People mistake the area around Cherry Creek High School as representative of the district, but it's not.

BTW, while not "everyone" in DCSD is wealthy, the average income in that district is higher than almost any other in the metro-area. Plenty of homes around the metro area are being foreclosed on and many districts voted for their school bond. You don't shoot yourself in the foot for a short-term gain. DCSD voters shot themselves in the foot.
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Old 05-21-2010, 02:43 PM
 
5,748 posts, read 7,100,955 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the3Ds View Post
Not everyone is wealthy in CCSD either. People mistake the area around Cherry Creek High School as representative of the district, but it's not.

BTW, while not "everyone" in DCSD is wealthy, the average income in that district is higher than almost any other in the metro-area. Plenty of homes around the metro area are being foreclosed on and many districts voted for their school bond. You don't shoot yourself in the foot for a short-term gain. DCSD voters shot themselves in the foot.
I know that everybody in CCSD isn't wealthy, since I live here now. I've experienced both districts firsthand. I'm not sure you can say the same.

But, back to your previous question, I think that there are many factors at play in the DCSD financial problems. Poor management is part of it, lack of information for the community is part of it, and the imploded housing market is part of it, too.
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Old 05-21-2010, 05:26 PM
 
Location: Aurora, Colorado
2,212 posts, read 3,066,126 times
Reputation: 2318
Quote:
Originally Posted by formercalifornian View Post
I know that everybody in CCSD isn't wealthy, since I live here now. I've experienced both districts firsthand. I'm not sure you can say the same.

But, back to your previous question, I think that there are many factors at play in the DCSD financial problems. Poor management is part of it, lack of information for the community is part of it, and the imploded housing market is part of it, too.
You're right...I don't speak for DCSD because I've never lived there. When we first moved to Denver, I was on City Data for months and really had my heart set on Parker. We found our realtor there and spent a lot of time looking at homes. Apparently, having the address of "Parker" means paying a lot more for what can only be called a crummy house and I just didn't see the appeal so that I could write the word "Parker" on my return addressed envelopes. If Parker has a high foreclosure rate its because they charged too much for a house that you can get much cheaper one freeway exit away. Having the word "Aurora" on my envelopes meant an awesome house in an awesome school district for more than $75K less. I'm not going to have pity on people finding out that their "shelter" isn't worth what they thought it was worth. People all over metro-Denver are struggling and plenty of them voted Yes on their school bonds.

However, having attended many district meetings and talked to a fair amount of teachers who have moved from DCSD to CCSD, I may not be an expert, but I'm not an idiot either. I've heard the same thing about many schools in DCSD...no one attends PTO functions but the football games are practically standing-room only. It does make a difference to get parents involved and while I can't speak for every single one of CCSDs schools, I know that the PTO boards I interract with have all said that they are absolutely thrilled with the level of parental involvement.

I still maintain that those who voted no were doing so just because they're short-sighted. Many of my neighbors are barely holding on too and yet they overwhelmingly voted in favor of our bond/levy. Perhaps because so many of my neighbors (and myself included) didn't come from money and many of us understand the importance of a good education, we don't just take it for granted that our kids will get a good education. DCSD will continue to test high on achievement tests, their sports teams will continue to do well and yes, even the kids will somehow manage to find their way to school. And those who voted NO will say "See...we told you so." Many of them don't see an education as an "opportunity"...they see it as a right of passage.
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