School Budgets are Being Used Incorrectly



Olivia Hain

Fresh carpets line the halls of Dakota Ridge High School despite the fact that other parts of the school are screaming for that kind of help.

Olivia Hain, Staff Writer

At the beginning of this school year, it was very hard not to notice the renovations being done to the school. Seats were added into the main hall, new carpets were being laid down in several rooms, and trophy cases were being repainted. But when you look around a little deeper, you notice some of the other things that need a bit more help. Sports equipment has scuffs and dents and the nets have more holes in them than they should that don’t go unnoticed when Seminars play volleyball. When my friends get lunch, the macaroni and cheese provided by the cafeteria is more like a cheese soup with a few soggy pieces of pasta mixed in. When I go to theatre rehearsal to see the set being built, the wood we use has a familiar color of paint on it: the maroon we used for “Hello, Dolly!” in my freshman year. 

I’m a senior this year, so that means we have to use wood from productions several years old and sound equipment that has been failing us since before then. 

The chromebooks that the school provides start to die after about three and a half years of use. When my own device started to shut down, I went to get a brand new computer from Best Buy and the woman who was helping me said that tech companies hate the school provided devices because of their poor processors. With more and more of our education being held digitally, poor devices that are dying faster than students can finish high school is a serious problem. 

All of this, and that doesn’t even cover the salaries of the teachers. provides a graphic that shows the average salaries of teachers by state. Colorado is on the low end with an average salary of $46,506 a year. To an even smaller level, states that the average hourly wage as of 2022 for a teacher in Colorado is $15. $12.56 an hour is Colorado’s current minimum wage, but when you drive to any fast food place or “starting job,” they’re offering closer to $16-$18 an hour.

In what world is it okay for a McDonald’s burger flipper to make more than a teacher hourly? To me, it seems like the carpets that we walk on with dirty shoes from the snow and mud outside get treated better than the teachers in these schools. It’s something I think about every time I see a teacher have to deal with yet another student’s poor behavior. 

To contrast what teachers are working with, a local gas station has a job posting offering a starting salary of $16 an hour, along with other benefits. (Olivia Hain)

I’m not the only one who feels this way, either. When I asked the blanket question simply about how DRHS senior Marcus Phillips would distribute the budget, he said, “Teachers aren’t paid enough and should be paid more. Teachers are barely paid more than some retail workers and need to be paid more for the service they do.”

I looked up the most recent adopted budgets for three school districts in Colorado: Jeffco (Jefferson County) Public Schools, Littleton Public Schools, and DougCo (Douglas County) Public Schools. Jefferson County had the longest PDF at 344 pages, followed by LPS and DougCo (the latter of which took the longest to load). The PDFs are extremely long and exhaustive, but to sum up in a concise way, districts receive upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars into even billions, and yet teacher salaries and other aspects of what makes school not only important but worthwhile to attend are on the low end. 

The new renovations here cost about 2 million dollars, including new carpeting and parking lot adjustments, and I believe that could have been put to a better use like a slight salary increase for the teachers who are responsible for teaching the next generation or a new sound system in the gymnasium that everyone would benefit from seeing as a lot of events are held in there with lots of students in attendance.

Here, however, I would like to give a quick word of thanks on behalf of the Dakota Ridge Theatre Department and the entire school. The sound system in the auditorium has been problematic for several years now, forcing the theatre department to use 2-3 mics at most during shows that would frequently cut in and out. Recently, a brand new system was put in thanks to Dr. Jim Jelinek’s financial aid. It is very much appreciated and ensures that all of our leads’ voices can be heard during the upcoming production of “Mamma Mia!”

Even so, there isn’t much that we as students can do in the way of changing how the main budget is handled, unfortunately. It would, however, be beneficial to at least take a closer look at what really needs help in our school versus what the district and community members chose to tackle with the received bond money from 2018. 

Links to the PDFs of the most recent district adopted budgets for DougCo LPS JeffCo.