By Dominic Garcia

DENVER (CBS4) – The coronavirus pandemic’s hit to tax revenues has many school districts looking at where to cut budgets. Denver Public Schools is one of them. The district is trying to figure out how to fill a $65 million hole.

Tiffany Choi, president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, is worried where those cuts will come from.

(credit: CBS)

“We really want to make sure that as we make very difficult decisions that we’re really considering the students first. In order to do that we also need to consider the employees who are supplying support,” she told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.

Choi says the coronavirus pandemic complicates things. Especially when one consideration is limiting classroom sizes when school is back in session.

“We need as many people in the buildings, or as many people working directly with students to help them through this difficult time. And at the same time we’re facing these budget cuts… it’s almost impossible.”

Lynne Valencia-Hernandez is a teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School. She is also on the district’s Budget Advisory Committee.

(credit: CBS)

She worries cuts may affect the teacher’s cost of living increases and payment schedules they went on strike for last year.

“There are 10 proposals that would impact educators and students, and we’re talking about like the elimination of sports, the elimination of transportation or the increase of class size. On the other hand, if you look at the proposed cuts they have submitted to this committee, there are only six that would impact central offices and administrators,” said Valencia-Hernandez.

On Wednesday, the Budget Advisory Committee will choose a final proposal to send to the board of directors. They will then make the final decision.

DPS Superintendent released this statement to CBS4:

“Our people are our greatest strength, and investing in our people is the best investment of the public’s tax dollars we can make. We significantly strengthened that investment in our teachers and our collaboration with educators last year during our contract negotiations. That collaboration has been critical in helping to get us through the COVID crisis, and I feel it will be a big strength in dealing with the funding shortfall.

Our focus right now is on finding cost-savings and efficiencies that keep the impact of that as far from the classrooms and our people as possible. The Budget Advisory Committee, comprised of parents and community members, is providing critical feedback and suggestions. We’re focused on operational efficiencies and belt-tightening. We will likely also use some of the reserve funding that we have built up through careful fiscal management for situations such as this. We will have some help from the CARES Act, and we are considering ballot measures to help chip away at the shortfall.

We are exploring every available option to save money before we look at salary or staffing reductions.”

Susana Cordova, superintendent.

Dominic Garcia

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