Letter to DCSD on February 4, 2013

February 4, 2013

Dear Ms. Betz, Mr. McMinimee, and Ms. Watson:

As you know, last Thursday, January 31, 2013, we were invited to a meeting at Our Colorado News, which included the following individuals:

  • Jane Reuter, reporter at Our Colorado News
  • Cinamon Watson, DCSD Community Relations Resource Development Officer
  • Bonnie Betz, DCSD Chief Financial Officer
  • Dan McMinimee, DCSD Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education
  • Laura Mutton, President, Strong Schools Coalition
  • Susan Meek, Vice-President, Strong Schools Coalition

We were told the purpose of this meeting was to discuss financial issues concerning Douglas County School District, in particular, the growth of the General Fund Balance. During the discussion several concerns and/or questions were raised and we would like to take this opportunity to address those items:

1)     Concern:  Ms. Watson and Ms. Betz believe that our charts that show a comparison of budgeting accuracy in Douglas County School District vs. Cherry Creek School District are inaccurate.  There was no dispute about the Douglas County numbers, but Ms. Betz did dispute the Cherry Creek School District numbers.

Response: On Friday we wrote to the Chief Financial Officer of Cherry Creek School District and were pleased to receive an immediate response from him, confirming that the numbers we are using on our graph are indeed correct. We’ve attached his response to this letter for your review.

2)    Concern: Ms. Watson and Ms. Betz believe the fund balance amounts we are using on the first Restore Our Schools graphic should be revised. The projected General Fund Balance in June 2012 should include Full Day Kindergarten, Risk Insurance and Transportation.

Response: Upon review, we agree with this request and have revised the Restore Our Schools graphic to show a projected General Fund Balance of $63 million in June 2012. Our website has been updated along with the accompanying timeline.

3)    Concern:  The actual General Fund Balance should include the Capital Projects Fund which would increase the Fund Balance that we show as $83 million to $100 million.

Response:  Our website goes into great detail as to why we cite it as $83 million and note that it is without the Capital Projects Fund.

4)    Concern:  Mr. McMinimee disputes the instructional minutes calculation that was presented to the Board of Education on May 15, 2012.

Response:  Due to the fact that this concern deviated from the purpose of our meeting with Ms. Reuter, we agreed to meet with Mr. McMinimee and discuss this concern further.  Our meeting is set for February 22nd, we have stated on our website that Mr. McMinimee is concerned about the graph and we are willing to make any changes we deem are necessary after our meeting on the 22nd.

5)    Question: Ms. Betz asked us to provide her the document providing the administrator numbers noted on the Recent Trends in DCSD graphic.

Response:  As noted on the graphic, the administrator numbers are taken from data reported to CDE by DCSD. The name of the report is Personnel Turnover Rate by District and Position Categories found at this link: http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdereval/rv2011StaffDatalinks.htm. We also indicated that it was our preference to use data directly from DCSD, which was the reason of a CORA open records request submitted to DCSD on November 19, 2012. The District has previously provided this level of financial detail in the past. It would be our preference to use District data, but as that is not being made available to use we must rely on CDE data.

If we missed any concerns that were raised in last week’s meeting, please submit those to us in writing so that we may accurately and completely address them.

Best regards,

Laura Mutton and Susan Meek
Strong Schools Coalition
Working Together for Douglas County Classrooms

Website: StrongSchoolsCoalition.com
Twitter: @StrongSchoolsCO
Email: DCSDStrongSchoolsCoalition@gmail.com