Teacher pay, education quality concerns with school budget cuts expected to continue

Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 8:02 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Colorado Springs school districts are impacted like the rest of the state’s school systems by a 5 percent cut to public education caused by the pandemic, and it’s resulted in teacher pay cuts locally, prompting questions over what the future of education looks like.

To make ends meet, District 11 is one that cut teacher salaries and added furlough days this year. Leaders there also say federal relief grants helped buy necessary additional healthcare resources. However, future concerns are that those grants will not be given again or not in the amount needed knowing pandemic impacts will likely be felt for years.

“If this thing continues on for a relatively long period of time, more than a year, we will definitely run out of stimulus money,” said District 11 Deputy Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer Glenn Gustafson.

In the long term, it could impact the quality of education students receive.

Gustafson adds, “When teacher pay gets cut, that means D-11 might become less competitive for attracting the best and brightest teachers to the district."

Pay cuts were also made for other district staff, including bus drivers, food service employees, and administration. The district adds they were able to avoid cutting programs students are directly involved in, such as arts, athletics, and other extracurricular activities.

Experts say the root starts at unemployment. Due to unprecedented unemployment rates, state income tax in revenues -- which largely go toward school funding -- are dramatically low.

State leaders have said they expect budgets will be cut further in the next fiscal year beyond the 5 percent that was cut state-wide this fiscal year.

For now, that leaves school systems crunching numbers for the future and hoping federal relief funds continue to come in for years.

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