Faced with a big budget shortfall, officials at Denver Public Schools will begin cutting a lot of jobs.
It’s partially related to the housing boom in Denver. Rising housing costs in Denver are driving out low-income families and changing the demographics of the city. School districts actually get more state money to educate kids living in poverty.
"We're projected to receive less funding in 2016-2017 than we did seven years ago,” said Denver Publis Schools (DPS) district spokesman, Will Jones. “And seven years ago, Colorado was near the bottom in per pupil funding."
DPS said these issues start with state lawmakers.
"That's a question to ask members of our legislature,” said Jones. “Those are the people who are in charge of the purse strings."
None of the positions being eliminated are teachers or principals.
Those who will be affected work at the central office in downtown Denver -- the district will cut 174 jobs total. Of those, 42 are current vacancies that will not be filled, while 132 are currently filled. And 74 of those are teacher coaches and peer observers, support staff for teachers.
"For some of these people it's tragic news," said Jones.
Despite the cuts, the district is adding 49 teacher coaches in schools district-wide next year. And, those who lost their jobs can apply for the new positions.
“Because we're receiving less money doesn't mean we can do less of a job of educating our children," said Jones.
Another contributing factor is fewer students. Jones said during the downturn in the economy, families were having fewer children. The net effect is now being felt in schools.
The affected employees were notified last week, but will be remain employed and be paid through June.
"Like a lot of school districts in Colorado -- we don't receive a lot of state funding," said Jones. “We’re going to have to watch our budgets and make sure that our budgets are tight, so that our kids continue to get the education they need.”
The district is offering those laid off personnel career support and advice, “as well as emotional support,” said Jones.
The projected budget savings will amount to roughly $21 million.