AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — As school districts across Colorado prepare for the worst financial shortfall since the Great Recession, one of the state’s largest districts is facing historic budget cuts.
The Cherry Creek School District says it is facing a $60 million budget deficit due to cuts in state funding amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter to parents, Superintendent Scott Siegfried outlines a worst-case scenario: cutting teachers and staff, eliminating programs and increasing class sizes. The district is also freezing salaries for all staff on July 1, according to the letter.
“Some of our students are going to be much more impacted by some of these decisions than others,” said Carlye Holladay, vice president elect of the Cherry Creek Educators Association. “I think school districts are in a really difficult situation.”
Holladay teaches English at Cherry Creek High School and is working with the educators association and the district to lessen the impact.
“I think there’s an even larger problem looming out there that we’re going to have to solve as well, which is: how do we take care of the students that are most vulnerable? How do we take care of the employees that are most vulnerable?” Holladay said.
Educators like Holladay hope ballot initiatives like 271, a $2 billion tiered tax hike on wealthy Coloradans, will help provide the funds needed for schools struggling financially across the state. She also points to local bond proposals that will give districts like Cherry Creek financial relief, if the voters approve.
The district is sending out surveys to parents to gauge budgeting priorities for next school year and anticipate even deeper state budget cuts the following school year.