In this “Deeper Dive” series, we are going to focus on the various components of Denver Public Schools’ (DPS) proposed mill levy. The levy, which is a tax increase for Denver residents, requests $56.6 million from Denver voters to improve people and programming needs at every school across the district*.
This week, we will share a greater level of detail on the largest component of the levy: Support for the Whole Child.
DPS is committed to creating a school environment that fosters growth of the whole child. Thus, schools are encouraged to help children pursue their interests, support social and emotional skills, and establish positive relationships that lead to responsible decision-making. Sadly, many DPS students are struggling on and off campus. Nearly 25% of middle schoolers in the district considered suicide in 2014, while 47% of middle schoolers say they were bullied at school. DPS recognizes the incredible importance of supporting the whole child, especially in the younger years, so that they grow up to be productive, educated, and healthy adults.
According to Denver Public Schools, resources that support the whole child are spread too thin, with many students not receiving the services they need. If voters approve the proposal, $15 million of the levy will go toward additional social and emotional supports that will improve student behavior, attendance, and learning. This $15 million will be broken down in the following manner:
- $10.9 million will allow DPS to provide all schools with enough funds to better-serve the social-emotional health needs of their students. Each school will control how the money is spent, whether it means hiring additional psychologists, counsel workers, nurses, or restorative justice coordinators.
- $3.5 million will be used to expand the DPS Summer Academy to serve 2,500 students. The Summer Academy includes summer school and camp activities.
- Remaining funds will help students stay on track to graduate. Rather than carve out targeted funding, the DPS Board of Education is encouraged to acknowledge the importance of advisory programs and mentors that help students graduate on time.
*As part of the effort to increase funds for schools, DPS is also asking for voters to approve a bond in this election. The bond and levy will appear on the ballot as one measure, but the funds will be used for separate purposes. If approved, the bond would raise a total of $572 million, specifically for building projects and infrastructure improvements. If you would like more information on the DPS bond and mill levy proposal, check out our blog here.