Douglas County School District puts students first
By Carin R. Kirkegaard
Annually, the Douglas County School District (DCSD) must have an approved budget by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year. Given the current economic and social environment, the budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year proved to be exceptionally difficult.
As a result of shortfalls at the state level due to the financial impact of COVID-19, this year’s school budget needed to eliminate $30.4 million from the bottom line. Expressing sincere gratitude to the students, parents, staff, teachers and administrators for the work put into preparing the budget, the Board unanimously approved the proposed 2020-2021 school year budget on June 23.
“The process to look at budgetary reductions is heartbreaking,” said DCSD Board President, David Ray. “It’s gut-wrenching, and we know that behind every reduction there are people associated and impacted. We know we have to compromise what we are able to provide. We are faced with doing everything possible to simply protect the absolute essentials,” he continued.
Seen through the lens of the District’s vision to maximize the potential of every student and prepare them for success after completing their K-12 education, the goal in implementing the budget cuts was to protect students, teaching and learning in the District.
DCSD Superintendent, Thomas Tucker, said that he was instructed by the Board to keep the cuts as far away from the neighborhood schools and classrooms as possible.
Adding additional complexity, the District was also tasked with crafting a plan, in an ever changing environment, that will allow students to safely return to school this August. The DCSD Restart and Recovery Task Force presented recommendations to the Board for returning to in-school learning and outlined potential obstacles.
Director Christina Ciancio-Schor, having worked in education for 45 years said, “Governmental expectations prove difficult in practice. As educators we have always been expected to pivot on a dime – without giving us a dime.”
With more than 850 people tuned into the six-hour virtual meeting, Ray offered a little good news. “In this District, we have an amazing staff, community and Board that will become relentless warriors in the days ahead to do everything possible to protect public education as it was intended.”
To learn more about the 2020-2021 school year’s budget, visit https://eboard.dcsdk12.org/attachments/6260fe8f-0060-4c80-9181-aa5c79f19b98.pdf. To learn more about recommendations for returning to school, visit https://eboard.dcsdk12.org/attachments/dbcef0c5-0a87-44b1-987c-99fcb0dd2d04.pdf.