Our DPS Weekly: Sharing What We Know about the Budget Forecast

Apr. 23, 2020
 
Student learning about numbers

Dear Team DPS:

I want to first send my well-wishes to you and your families. I know this has been a tough few weeks, and I’m so thankful for the strength and togetherness our team and our community has shown. Please know how much I value the time and effort you continue to put into supporting students, families and each other. 

We are continuing to provide critical support to our families, both in terms of what they need for remote learning and other family resources to help them through this difficult time. We’ve also started to look at what financial implications we may face from the overall impact the COVID-19 crisis is having on our state and national economy. 

Last week, we devoted our Board of Education meeting to a discussion about our DPS budget. We shared the known, the unknowns and some projections on how the budget may be affected in the coming months. This preview was shared outlining the financial state of the district as an overview of the current situation, as well as many options of how the district may consider handling the financial impact of COVID-19. This is just the start of the process, and there have been no decisions or recommendations made. We welcome any and all ideas for budget savings options. If you have ideas, please reach out to our Chief Financial Officer Jim Carpenter. 

I want to emphasize that we are at the very earliest stages of understanding what the financial picture looks like, what might happen in terms of public-education funding, and how we might consider grappling with what could be a dramatically different budget environment. We remain in close contact with state leaders to ensure we’re getting the latest information on all economic indicators.

And based on the feedback and direction we’ve received from the DPS Board of Education, we have also announced the creation of a Budget Advisory Committee that will bring broad-based staff and community perspectives to our budget discussions and planning. In the coming days, we also will be setting up a webpage where you can share your feedback and suggestions for budget solutions. 

As you know, we recently completed a major overhaul of central support in order to maximize our classroom investments. Please know that I understand that it is difficult for everyone to consider the need to find further efficiencies and cost reductions. The unfortunate reality for us all right now is that we must prepare for a significant reduction in funding resulting from the economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 crisis. In doing so, we will look at all options that do not involve a reduction in staff. DPS is made strong by our people, and that strength lifts our kids. We will look at ways to cut costs and streamline in operational areas, and we will look at the possibility of using reserve funds – which we have as a result of our careful fiscal management — to offset the anticipated decline in tax revenue coming in.

Again, we are in the very early stages of budget planning, and there are still a lot of unknowns in the final equation. We will continue to keep you updated on important developments, and we welcome your input and suggestions.

Thank you for everything you do for our students and families, and please take good care of yourselves.

Warm regards,
Susana

Budget Advisory Committee

During May and early June, we will create a Budget Advisory Committee that will review all budget options and inform the Proposed Budget that staff will present to the DPS Board of Education in June. The committee will include:

  • Three Board of Education members, including Board Treasurer Angela Cobián
  • Four community members, to be appointed by the Board Treasurer
  • The chair of the budget sub-committee of the District Accountability Committee
  • Four DPS staff members, including a teacher, two non-management staff and a school leader, to be appointed by Superintendent Susana Cordova
  • Deputy Superintendent for Operations Mark Ferrandino, Chief Financial Officer Jim Carpenter, and Executive Director of Finance Chuck Carpenter.

The Budget Advisory Committee will continue meeting on a regular basis in the 2020-21 school year to provide input into budget assumptions, core values informing the budget, budget development processes, and updated budget information as the year progresses.  All meetings of the committee will be public and live-streamed through our regular Vimeo account.