Denver Public Schools cuts $65 million from budget but avoids layoffs

The Denver school board unanimously approved a budget Monday that cuts $65 million while still giving raises to teachers and low-wage workers. Top district administrators will see their salaries reduced, with the superintendent taking a 10% pay cut.

School districts across Colorado are having to slash their budgets for next school year. Schools get significant funding from local property taxes, as well as state income and sales tax revenue, which has plummeted because of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, state lawmakers cut by 5% the amount of per-student funding Colorado will send to districts next year.

Denver Public Schools, the state’s largest district with 92,000 students, had to cut its $1.1 billion budget by more than 5%. The cuts avoid layoffs and do not impact individual school budgets — key goals identified by both board and community members.

The biggest reduction — $18 million — comes from the district’s central office, which has long been criticized as top-heavy, even after a round of cuts last year.

But the size of the central office won’t shrink, according to a budget presentation; rather, the savings will come from canceling third-party contracts, adjusting school bell times so buses run more efficiently, delaying curriculum purchases, and other shifts.

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