CASTLE ROCK - Parents in any school district are used to hearing about new school fees or fees going up. Next year, the Douglas County School District is offering a plan to get rid of the technology while also pumping more money into the classroom.
"It's a significant amount of money," said Dr. Liz Fagen, superintendent of Douglas County Schools. "It can make the difference whether or not students have specials like music, art, or physical education."
Tuesday, the district proposed a budget which included an additional $11.6 million for the classroom which equals about $200 more per student.
The district is offering a 4 percent average pay increase for all employees.
"This is who we are as a leadership team. This is who our district is. This is what we value," Fagen said. "Taking the dollars that we have available and putting them in our classroom and putting them with our staff models the commitments that we say we have."
But, union leaders are not so impressed. Brenda Smith is the president of the Douglas County Federation of Teachers and Classified Employees. She says that overall salaries have been decreased.
"These percent increases are really just a mirage," Smith said. "The Board is choosing to value kids in 3rd grade less than those in high school math by placing different values on their teachers."
The budget increases are due to an increase from the State of Colorado to K-12 funding and savings made by the district, according to Fagen. She says the added dollars will have an impact on class sizes.
"That's probably the number one question we get from parents that they'd like to see smaller class sizes and so they're going to be really pleased," Fagen said.
The district is also proposing to eliminate the technology fee of $25 per student. Fagen says that's the first time the district has ever removed a fee. It will save parents, as a whole, $1.2 million.
The school board will officially vote on the budget proposal in June. But, she anticipates it will pass unanimously.
"We're moving ahead with our teacher contracts and putting salaries together, so that people will know before they leave for the year what to expect for next year," Fagen said.
Smith says despite what the district is proposing, it is not what's best for kids.
"This will do nothing but continue to push the decline of Douglas County Schools. We have already seen the loss of accreditation with distinction and lower literacy scores," Smith said.
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