Teachers at Denver School of Arts face uncertainty due to upcoming DPS budget cuts

Students and parents at the Denver School of Arts protested DPS's decision to cut several teacher and special educator positions.
Posted at 4:30 PM, Feb 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-09 19:25:32-05

DENVER, Colo — Dozens of parents and students at the Denver School of Arts gathered Friday morning outside the school parking lot to protest recently announced budget cuts.

The school is expected to lose several teachers and special educators after a recent budget hearing showed a $482,000 deficit. DPS officials said multiple schools will experience cuts, primarily in the north and southwest part of town.

"We understand that the district is over budget, and that cuts have to happen across the district," said Caron Blanke, a parent at the School of Arts. "Our concern is the way in which cuts are happening.”

Blanke has two students at the School of Arts and her oldest graduated in 2021. She said the cuts would devastate students, who formed close bonds with many of their teachers.

"Our students saw their teachers being pulled out of class, for interviews about whether they keep their jobs or not," said Blanke.

DPS officials said the cuts happen every year and that teacher performance is not the cause. DPS director of communications Scott Pribble said student enrollment is the primary cause for the recent cuts. Current data shows that DPS enrollment dropped nearly 3% across the county, a devastating blow for a system funded on a per-pupil basis.

"When the numbers of students go down, then the amount of money that a school has to function also decreases," said Pribble.

Many parents argued that the school could have spent the $30 million used to expand the school in 2021 on teacher salaries. However, Pribble said those funds were from a federal bond, specifically earmarked for infrastructure purposes.

"Bond dollars have to be used on infrastructure and improving school buildings, they cannot be used on staff," said Pribble.

The protest outside the Denver School of Arts is one of two planned by parents and students. A student walkout is currently scheduled next Monday. Additionally, parents delivered a letter with these demands to school principals:

  • Responsive communication with parents.
  • Collaborative School Committee(CSC) access to the school's 2024-25 budget.
  • A new CSC meeting to create recommendations for the budget cut process.
  • Inclusion of DSA positions in potential cuts.
  • Exact number of planned cuts.
  • A halt on the current budget cut process.
  • An open forum for parents to speak.

DPS officials said they haven't made any decisions on which positions will be cut, but they're currently conducting the interview process and will inform staff within the next month.

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