School Funding 101 & FAQs
Learn the answers to some key questions about funding for Denver Public Schools including watching the animated videos and reviewing general-, bond-, mill levy frequently asked questions.
What is a bond? What is a mill levy override?
Both a bond and mill levy are types of funding drawn from property taxes to support public projects and services. Denver Public Schools (DPS) is one of the public entities that has the ability ask voters for funding through property taxes increases. A portion of Denver residents’ property taxes go into a state fund that supports education in Denver and across the state. Another portion of property taxes are for bonds and mill levy overrides that fund only projects and services in Denver. Watch the informational video on the difference between a bond and mill levy.
What is the difference between the bond and mill levy?
Bonds are one-time investments in capital projects such building classrooms, buying technology and security equipment. Bond funds help renovate older schools to update them for 21st-century learning, build brand-new school buildings and buy additional educational technology. Watch the informational video on the difference between a bond and mill levy.
A mill levy funds ongoing operational needs such as teachers, software, enrichments, and social-emotional supports.
A bond funds the building of schools and classrooms and the mill levy brings the classrooms to life.
How are schools funded?
Watch the informational video to learn more about school funding.
How does Colorado's education funding compare to other states?
Colorado ranks near the bottom of the country in education funding – at 42 out of 50 states. Colorado spends around $2,000 less per pupil than the national average.
What is the Community Planning and Advisory Committee (CPAC)?
A Bond and a Mill Levy are unique opportunities to improve student environment and learning experience. Given this unique opportunity, the Board of Education seeks to place our community – parents, teachers, students and community members – in the role of developing these recommendations. The CPAC is made up of a group of 60-75 community members who meet regularly in order to develop the bond and mill levy package that eventually go to the board and then to voters.
Watch the informational video on the difference between a bond and mill levy.
How does DPS determine the level of support for each school once a bond and mill levy are passed?
In general, bond projects are awarded based on school need. The facilities team conducts in-depth facility analyses and prioritizes projects throughout the district. What this means is that every school will not receive the same amount of investment, but rather the schools with the greatest facility needs will receive larger investment.
All DPS students have benefitted in some way from the mill levy, which also targets funds to our neediest students. In considering two similar schools – one with 40% students living in poverty and another with 80% students in poverty – the latter school would receive approximately 50% additional funding. Watch the informational video on the difference between a bond and mill levy.
How did the legalization of marijuana affect funding for Denver schools?
DPS does not get a significant amount of funding from marijuana taxes. Since marijuana was legalized in 2014, DPS has received no funding from state marijuana taxes.
However, the City of Denver collects taxes on marijuana sales, and some of those funds go towards youth marijuana prevention and education. DPS receives about $1 per student from these sources to provide after-school and summer programs.
How was DPS accountable for the 2016 bond and mill investment?
Citizen oversight committees were appointed by the superintendent and the school board for both the 2016 bond and mill levy. The Bond Oversight Committee ensures accountability for delivering projects scope and transparency around bond financial management. The Mill Levy Oversight Committee ensured that mill levy funds were spent as originally intended and represented to the voters and tracks expenditures through an accountability system. For the 2020 Mill Levy, the Budget Advisory Committee will take on the oversight responsibilities.