Dear DPS Community & Fellow Colleagues,
As we end another successful year and look forward to the beginning of 2023-24, it’s with great joy and appreciation that I extend my gratitude to each and every member of the Financial Services team at Denver Public Schools. The teams’ integrity, hard work, and commitment have played an important role in making this last year one of achievements and growth. Just a few of those are highlighted below. The Financial Services team has wide-ranging responsibilities across DPS from highly visible roles like enrolling students, annual budgeting, and publishing audited financial statements to less visible roles like procuring and paying for goods and services, payroll, risk management, campus planning, internal audit, cash management, and student submissions. The common thread across these teams is the substantial impact on DPS’s current and long-term financial health, the high level of integrity the team displays, and the commitment to using data to improve our performance.
Adoption of the 2023-24 Budget & Clean 2021-22 Audit
Perhaps the two most publicly visible products of the Financial Services team are the budget and the audit. The 2023-24 Budget includes $1.3 billion in the General Operating Funds, and outlines the financial plan to support the DPS vision and the Board of Education’s Ends Policies. While the Finance team leads the preparation of the Budget, the document contains the aspirations and plans of nearly 200 schools and their communities. This includes work with the Collaborative School Committees, staff members and leaders at all DPS traditionally managed, innovation, and charter schools as well as central services. Similarly, the audit for 2021-22, was compiled by the Office of the Controller, and the “Clean” audit we received from our external auditors is not just a compliment to our accounting team but is a reflection of the high standards we have across our entire system and all team members, not just those in finance.
Keeping Our Promises with the 2020 Bond
In November 2020, Denver voters, in the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, generously approved a no-tax-increase $795 million bond measure to support critical maintenance, building new schools in the areas of the city with enrollment growth, technology, and other critical capital needs for Denver Public Schools students. Even with inflation and cost increases, the promises of the 2020 bond election will be kept, and that work continues with construction over this summer. These critical investments add to capital improvements that have been approved by Denver voters without fail going back to 1990. During that 33-year period, over $1.3 billion and seven separate bond elections have been approved by Denver voters to support generations of DPS students. Denver has always been generous to its young people, and that continues with this work this summer and next.
Enrolling the Class of 2037
Kindergarteners who start school this fall represent the high school graduating class of 2037. Each year our Enrollment and Campus Planning team takes on one of our most important functions of bringing in new students to DPS across all grades, but bringing in new Kindergarteners is especially exciting. Thirteen years later those students will hopefully be graduating and moving on with their lives prepared for career, college, or some other endeavor of their choosing. There has been much focus on the fact that DPS is steadily declining in total enrollment mostly because fewer children are born in Denver in recent years, and appropriately so. However, there has been less focus on the fact that DPS is still the single largest school distinct in Colorado, and that a net of more than 800 students choose to come into DPS from other neighboring school districts than choose to leave DPS. The kindergarten class entering DPS next year will be nearly 6k students, and in most of Colorado’s 179 school districts, the total enrollment across all grades is less than 6k. The work of our Enrollment and Campus Planning team make this possible, and I am incredibly appreciative and proud of their efforts.
Supporting Students with Federal Stimulus Funds
DPS received over $300 million in additional federal funding for DPS traditional, innovation, and charter schools to spend between 2021-22 and 2023-24 to support students through the COVID-19 pandemic. These resources have been instrumental in our ability to manage through the pandemic including investments in summer programming, recruiting and retention of existing educators, capital and air quality improvements to our facilities, additional student technology, and other supports. The 2023-24 school year will be the final year of the additional funding, and DPS is in a good position to use all of the funding while also not creating financial cliffs in the future.
Launch of the New Financial Software – Oracle Financials
Keeping up with new technologies and enhancing our use of information and financial software to improve our organization’s ability to meet its goals for students is part of our responsibility as leaders and educators. Beginning in July of 2022, DPS launched Oracle Financials to support the accounting, budgeting, and procuring of goods. Our previous software was no longer supported by the vendor, and DPS was required to change to a cloud-based system of some kind. Our implementation last year required us to change the way we operated, and many of those changes have improved our internal controls for purchasing goods and approving expenses. Each new year will allow us to build on the foundation from with a focus on utilizing all of the functionality that the software offers and helping our leaders make better decisions with better, more timely information.
Thank you to every member of the finance team and to all the educators district-wide who make DPS a great place to work and learn for all students and adults. Here’s to a great start to 2023-24.
Chief Financial Officer