Denver Schools Seek More Than A Half-Billion Dollars In New Revenue

Colorado’s largest school district kicked off a campaign Friday seeking voter approval to raise more than a half-billion dollars to build new schools, fix up old ones, and support a variety of student services.

Denver Public Schools’ $572 million bond would build the new schools, pay for air-conditioning and increase the percentage of students in a school with a computer.

DPS Board Chair Anne Rowe says a companion property tax hike would raise more than $55 million.

About $15 million of that would go directly to schools to invest in social and emotional supports for students, which are lacking, according to Pat Slaughter, a former DPS teacher and administrator.

“We see children every day who are dealing with situations, issues, and challenges that require assistance from health professionals, counselors and paraprofessional staff,” she said.

Nearly $7 million raised through the property tax increase would be spent training early grade teachers in reading. Studies show students who read at or above grade level in third grade are more likely to graduate from high school and be successful in their later years. Just 52 percent of Denver’s third graders are on target.

Another $6.5 million would provide digital coaching, curriculum and upgrading devices. Part of the bond proposal would increase the percentage of students in a school with one computer device per student from 22 percent to 63 percent.

Some of the money raised would help offset the loss of roughly $90 million a year in state funding since the recession.