Douglas County School District, Colorado

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The Douglas County School District Re. 1 is a school district that serves Douglas County, Colorado. It is the third-largest school district in Colorado, serving 64,657 students in 80 schools.[1][2]

Douglas County School District was formed in 1958 by the consolidation of 17 smaller school districts, adding the "Re. 1" to its name to note the district's first reorganization.[3]

About the district

Douglas County School District is located in Douglas County, CO
Douglas County School District is located in Douglas County, Colorado. Douglas County is located between the cities of Denver and Colorado Springs. According to the 2010 US Census, Douglas County is home to 285,465 residents.[4] The county seat is Castle Rock, named after a notable nearby butte. The district lies on the Colorado Piedmont and features woodlands and mesas.

Douglas County outperforms the rest of Colorado based on average household income, poverty rate and graduation rates in 2011. The average household income in Douglas County was $101,193 compared to $57,685 for the state of Colorado. The poverty rate in Douglas County was 3.5% compared to 12.5% for the entire state. The U.S. Census also found that 54.6% of Douglas County residents aged 25 years and older attained a bachelor's degree compared to a 36.3% in Colorado.[5]


The current superintendent of Douglas County Schools is Elizabeth Celania-Fagen. The former teacher and superintendent of Tuscon Unified School District was hired in June 2010. Fagen is the highest-paid school official in Colorado, receiving an annual compensation of $280,350 including retirement benefits. Her annual salary raised questions in 2010 as the district reduced the budget and cut jobs in the previous year. District spokeswoman Susan Meek argued at the time that the compensation was necessary to attract a highly skilled administrator.[6]

School board

Douglas County schools are overseen by a seven-member school board elected to four-year terms. School board members are not paid for their services.[7]

School board districts in Douglas County

Douglas County School Board
Member District Assumed Office Term Ends
Craig V. Richardson District A 2010 2015
John Carson District B 2005 2013
Kevin Larsen District C 2011 2015
Dr. Carrie Mendoza District D 2013 2013
Doug Benevento District E 2009 2013
Justin G. Williams District F 2007 2015
Meghann Silverthorn District G 2009 2013

School board elections

See also: Douglas County School District elections (2013)

Members of the Douglas County School Board are elected to four-year terms on a staggered basis. Each election is held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November in odd-numbered years. Three seats were up for election in November 2009 and four seats are up for election in November 2013.[8]

School budget

Expenditures by Fund[9]
Fund 2011 Budget ($) 2012 Budget ($) Per Pupil Spending ($) Percent of Budget (%)
General Fund 436,656,943 456,151,393 7,227.42 69.6
Debt Service/Bond Redemption Fund 67,310,740 69,587,385 1,102.57 10.6
Building Fund 16,277,949 16,050,690 254.31 2.4
Capital Reserve Fund 3,527,377 675,000 10.69 0.1
Capital Projects Fund 3,327,000 3,428,000 54.31 0.5
Transportation Fund 18,838,599 17,754,287 281.31 2.7
Govtl Designated Purpose Grant Fund 15,644,123 11,403,020 180.67 1.7
Nutrition Services Fund 14,613,438 13,736,557 217.65 2.0
Child Care Fund 8,879,677 8,810,214 139.59 1.3
Private Purpose Trusts 64,000 72,500 1.15 0.0
Pupil Activity Fund 4,880,000 3,340,000 52.92 0.5
Medical Self-Insurance Fund 47,820,096 39,801,605 630.63 6.0
Insurance Reserve Fund 3,699,141 3,458,971 54.81 0.5
Athletics and Activities Fund 11,038,401 11,163,821 176.88 1.7
Total 652,577,484 655,433,443 10,384.91 100.0

Teacher salaries

The Douglas County School District employed 3,187 teachers in the 2012-2013 school year.[10] Teachers in Douglas County schools are placed into five salary categories or "bands" based on their subject area, expertise and education. Each salary "band" has an average salary and range based on an analysis of a particular position's market value. The lowest tier, Band 25, includes instructors focused on art, drama, physical education and health. The highest tier, Band 45, includes psychologists, speech language pathologists and teachers working with visually or hearing impaired students.[11][12]

Salary structure
Band Average salary ($) Minimum salary ($) Maximum salary ($)
25 46,000 42,000 51,500
30 48,500 44,000 53,000
35 53,500 48,000 59,000
40 59,500 52,500 66,500
45 69,500 62,000 77,000

Bonuses and raises

In May 2013, the Douglas County School Board approved a new bonus and raise structure for teachers. The approved plan ties annual bonuses and pay increases to performance evaluations conducted by district officials. Evaluations assess whether teacher performance is highly effective, effective, partially effective or ineffective. The following table lists bonuses and raises applicable to these four categories:[10]

Bonus and Raise Structure
Evaluated performance Maximum raise (%) Maximum bonus (%)
Highly Effective 7.0 1.0
Effective 3.0 2.0
Partially Effective 1.5 1.5
Ineffective 0 0

Schools in Douglas County


Douglas County Schools served 64,657 students during the 2012-2013 school year. The district experienced a 22% growth in enrollment between 2006 and 2012. The following table lists total enrollment for the district between 2005 and 2012:[13]

Total enrollment
Year Enrollment Year-to-year change (%)
2005 48,043 -
2006 50,370 4.6
2007 52,398 4.9
2008 58,723 9.8
2009 59,932 2.0
2010 61,465 2.5
2011 63,114 2.6
2012 64,657 2.4

District schools

Douglas County School District operates 80 schools listed below in alphabetical order:[14]

Academic performance

Colorado Student Assessment Program

The Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) is Colorado’s standards-based assessment designed to provide a picture of student performance to schools, districts, educators, parents and the community. The primary purpose of the assessment program is to determine the level at which Colorado students meet the Colorado Model Content Standards in the content areas assessed. The CSAP is collaboratively developed by the Colorado Department of Education, the Colorado teaching community and CTB/McGraw-Hill. The data is used to keep abreast of individual student, school, and district progress toward attaining higher student achievement levels. The fact that CSAP is based on the Colorado Model Content Standards ensures that all districts are held to the same standards expected for students regardless of whether they live in urban, suburban, or rural areas.[15]

Three-year performance trends

Douglas County School District performance for years 2011-2012, 2010-2011, and 2009-2010:[16]

District CSAP scores
Performance Indicators Rating  % Earned
Academic Achievement Meets 79.2
Academic Growth Meets 72.6
Academic Growth Gaps Approaching 58.9
Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Meets 71.9
Total 71.3

What do the performance indicators measure?

  • Academic Achievement: The Achievement Indicator reflects how a district's students are doing at meeting the state's proficiency goal: the percentage of students proficient or advanced on Colorado's standardized assessments. This indicator includes results from CSAP and CSAPA (Reading, Writing, Math and Science), and Lectura and Escritura.
  • Academic Growth: The Growth Indicator measures academic progress using the Colorado Growth Model. This indicator reflects:
  • Normative growth: How the academic progress of the students in this district compared to that of other students statewide with a similar CSAP score
  • Adequate growth: Whether this level of growth was sufficient for the typical (median) student in this district to reach an achievement level of proficient or advanced on the CSAP within three years or by 10th grade, whichever comes first.
  • Academic Growth Gaps: The Gaps Indicator measures the academic progress of historically disadvantaged student subgroups. It disaggregates the Growth Indicator into student subgroups, and reflects their normative and adequate growth. The subgroups include students eligible for free or reduced Lunch, minority students, students with disabilities (IEP status), English Language Learners, and students needing to catch up.
  • Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness: The Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Indicator measures the preparedness of students for college or jobs upon completing high school. This indicator reflects student graduation rates, dropout rates and average Colorado ACT composite scores.


Advocacy groups

Parent group criticizes lack of transparency

The Strong Schools Coalition, a Douglas County parent group, criticized the school board for multiple transparency issues. Criticisms include: [17]

  • The district has stopped issuing Annual Reports and Quick Facts
  • Public input from surveys, forums, and comments are not valued
  • An open records requests about employee salaries has gone without a response, despite the fact that the information was released in 2010.
  • The Board has not responded to requests and letters urging greater transparency in government.
  • The amount of time that public meetings spend in sessions closed to the public has increased from 8 percent of the time 2009 to 49 percent in 2012.

Strong Schools parrots public unions

Colorado Media Trackers reported the Strong Schools Coalition and the Douglas County Federation of Teachers were using the same talking points in their messaging. The media group also said the two organizations worked together to distribute campaign materials.[18]

Douglas County Classrooms

The Douglas County teachers union launched a parent-teacher organization to inform other parents of the board of education’s activities and try to elect new members to the school board. A representative of the initiative told the Denver Post that Douglas County Classrooms was started in response to what she called the board’s political motivations toward reforming education, including the voucher program and severing ties with the teachers union.[19]

Rehire lawsuit filed

In February 2013, the Douglas County Federation of Teachers filed a lawsuit against the school district saying the district did not fill new positions with teachers who had been laid off. More than 10 teachers were laid off and not rehired. Six of those teachers are named as plaintiffs.[20]

The union is receiving assistance from its parent organization, the American Federation of Teachers, in its dealings with the school board.[21]

Teacher pay plan

In October 2012, the district implemented a pilot teacher pay program based on performance and merit. The new system was funded with $4 million supported by a voter referendum. The pay system is based on assessments of performance, education and supply and demand.[22]

The new pay plan eliminates "knowledge-level advancement", where teachers receive raises for gaining education. District officials said teachers have to "prove the worth of that education through their performance."[23]

Email controversies

In September 2012, Media Trackers Colorado reported some district teachers and officials used email accounts provided by the county for political campaigning. [24]

Severing ties with teachers union

In September 2012, the school board unanimously voted to sever ties with the Douglas County Federation of Teachers, which represents the district's teachers. The district no longer collects union dues through paychecks nor grant paid release time to teachers who log hours conducting union business instead of teaching in the classroom.[25]

Severing ties with the union also meant an end to collective bargaining. The collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the district and the Douglas County Federation of Teachers expired in 2012.[26] Although the collective bargaining agreement expired in June 2012, the district agreed to provide teachers with a 1 percent pay raise for the 2012-2013 school year.[27]

Journalist ejected from board meeting

After ejecting a documentary filmmaker from a board meeting in August 2012, the board of education reversed a ban against him, after the American Civil Liberties Union intervened on his behalf. According to reports the filmmaker stepped outside an area cordoned off for media and refused to return to the area.[28]

School choice plan

In 2011, the Douglas County Board of Education unanimously approved the Choice Scholarship Program, a voucher program that provided the use of public funds to give students a chance to attend one of more than 20 private schools. Under the program, up to 500 students could receive $4,575 in state funds for tuition at private schools, including religious schools. Each will get 75 percent of the education money provided by the state to select a school, whether it is public or private. The remaining 25 percent of the funds stay with the Douglas County School District.[29] More than 200 students received voucher money from the county before the program was put on hold due to lawsuits challenging its constitutionality. Plaintiffs, including the American Civil Liberties Union, argued the program violated the state constitution's prohibition of using public funds to support religious schools.[30]

Court blocks plan

In August 2011, a district court judge in Denver issued a permanent injunction that halted the voucher program.[31] Judge Michael Martinez blocked the voucher program in August, saying it was a disservice to the public interest for taxpayers to pay tuition for religious schools. Martinez ruled the program violated the state's constitution and school-financing act.[32]

Appeal overturns injunction

In February 2013, the Colorado Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling that blocked Douglas County's Choice Scholarship Program. The court said the voucher program does not violate the state constitution. The court added local school districts are not prohibited "from providing educational opportunities in addition to and different from the thorough and uniform system."[33]

The case is likely to be appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.[34]

District legal fees

The district's legal fees are being covered in part by The Daniels Fund, an organization that provides funding for needy and poor students to attend college. The fund is expected to pay up to $500,000 of the district's legal costs. [35]

Website evaluation

Budget P
Elected Officials
Administrative Officials
Public Records
Background Checks

School district websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process
See also: Evaluation of Colorado school district websites

Last rated on an unknown date.

The good

  • Budget
    • 2012-2013 budget summary is provided.
    • Budgets are archived for 3 years.[36]
  • Administrative Officials
    • Department heads are listed for each department.[37]
    • Contact information for administrative officials is provided including a mailing address, phone number, and personalized email.
  • Elected Officials
    • Elected officials are listed with a mailing address, phone number and personalized email.[38]
  • Meetings
    • Meeting minutes are archived for 5 years.[39]
    • Meeting agendas are archived for 5 years.[40]
    • A meeting calendar is available and names the times and locations of public meetings.[41]
    • Executive session summaries are disclosed.
  • Audits
    • The most recent audit is posted.
    • Audits dating back to 2006 are available.[42]
  • Contracts
    • Bids are posted.[43]
    • Awarded bids, including those over $10,000 are posted.[44]
  • Public Records
    • The public information officer is identified and maintained by the communications department. This person provides a mailing address, phone number and personalized email.[45]
    • A public records form is provided.
    • A fee schedule for documents is provided.
  • Academics
    • Academic performance reports for the school are posted online.[46]
  • Taxes
    • Tax revenue is available in budget documents.
    • Tax rate tables are published, with archived information dating back to 2002.[47]
  • Background Checks
    • Background check policy is posted.[48]

The bad

  • Budget
    • Complete 2012-2013 budget is not provided.
  • Taxes
    • Tax rates are not posted.
  • Meetings
    • According to the Strong Schools Coalition, the Douglas County School Board spent 49% of meeting time in Executive Session(closed sessions) in 2012. These sessions are not recorded in meeting minutes.[49]

See also

External links


  1. U.S. Department of Education, "Douglas County School District," Accessed July 15, 2013
  2. Colorado Department of Education, "2012 Pupil Membership by County, Accessed July 16, 2013
  3. Ponderosa High School, "History," Accessed July 15, 2013
  4. United States Census Bureau. "2010 Census Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved on 8 July 2013. 
  5. U.S. Census, "Douglas County Quick Facts, Accessed July 16, 2013
  6. Meyer, Jeremy P. The Denver Post, "New Douglas County School superintendent's salary raises the bar during tough times," June 22, 2010
  7. Our Colorado News, "Douglas County School Board member resigns," January 11, 2013
  8. Douglas County School District, "Board of Education," Accessed July 15, 2013
  9. Douglas County School District, "Financial Plan and Budget Fiscal Year 2011-12," Accessed July 15, 2013
  10. 10.0 10.1 Denver Post, "District, union clash over market-based salary plan in Douglas County," May 30, 2013
  11. Douglas County School District, "Market-based Pay," Accessed July 16, 2013
  12. Douglas County School District, "Certified salary bands," Accessed July 16, 2013
  13. Colorado Department of Education, "State Trends in Colorado Public School Membership by School District," Accessed July 16, 2013
  14. Douglas County School District, "School List," Accessed July 15, 2013
  15. Colorado Department of Education, "About CSAP" Accessed July 15, 2013
  16. Colorado Department of Education, "District Performance Framework 2012," Accessed July 16, 2013
  17. Strong Schools Coalition, "Transparency in DCSD," March, 2013
  18. Colorado Media Trackers, "'Parent Led' Strong Schools Coalition Broadcasts Union Talking Points," March 21, 2013
  19. Denver Post, "Douglas County group aims to counter board of education message," Dec. 19, 2012
  20. Denver Post, "Douglas County Teachers Union Sues District," February 15, 2013
  21. Education News Colorado, "AFT prez sees best, worst in DPS, Dougco," October 3, 2012
  22. Denver Post, "Douglas County starts new teacher pay plan," October 15, 2013
  23. Denver Post, "Douglas County starts new teacher pay plan," October 15, 2013
  24. Media Trackers Colorado, "Investigation unearths inappropriate emails sent from Douglas County Schools accounts," September 18, 2012
  25., "Dougco Board Bids Teachers Union Adieu, Moves On," September 7, 2012
  26. Denver Post, "Douglas County Teachers Union Sues District," February 15, 2013
  27. Douglas County Schools, "Pay Resolution," June 2012
  28. Education News Colorado, "Dougco lifts ban against ejected journalist," Aug. 15, 2012
  29. 9news, "Douglas County Schools votes for school choice voucher program," March 15, 2011
  30. Denver Post, "Court overturns block of school voucher program," February 28, 2013
  31. Denver Post, "Daniels Fund promises up to $530,000 in fight for Douglas County voucher program," August 30, 2011
  32. The Denver Channel, "Court overturns block of Douglas County Schools school voucher program," February 28, 2013
  33. Denver Post, "Court overturns block of school voucher program," February 28, 2013
  34. Denver Post, "Court overturns block of school voucher program," February 28, 2013
  35. Denver Post, "Daniels Fund promises up to $530,000 in fight for Douglas County voucher program," August 30, 2011
  36. Douglas County School District, "Budgets," Accessed March 19, 2013
  37. Douglas County School District, "Staff Directory," Accessed March 19, 2013
  38. Douglas County School District, "Elected Officials," Accessed March 19, 2013
  39. Douglas County School District, "Meeting Minutes," Accessed March 19, 2013
  40. Douglas County School District, "Meeting Agendas," Accessed March 19, 2013
  41. Douglas County School District, "Meeting Calendar," Accessed March 19, 2013
  42. Douglas County School District, "Audits," Accessed March 19, 2013
  43. Douglas County School District, "Bids," Accessed March 19, 2013
  44. Douglas County School District, "Awarded Bids," Accessed July 15, 2013
  45. Douglas County School District, "Open Records Requests," Accessed March 19, 2013
  46. Douglas County School District, "Performance," Accessed March 19, 2013
  47. Douglas County School District, "Tax rate tables," Accessed March 22, 2013
  48. Douglas County School District, "Background Checks," Accessed March 19, 2013
  49. Strong Schools Coalition, "Transparency Inspires Trust," Accessed March 20, 2013