Check-in with Interim CEO Dr Karen Johnson (10/23/22)

Interim KOSON CEO Announcement (Presentation)

Dear STEM Community,

I hope you have enjoyed the fall break and the beautiful weather that fall brings! Although it was a very busy week before the break, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with so many parents during conferences. It is very rewarding to hear your personal stories related to the success your students are having. One of my main goals is to also listen to ways in which we can improve. Please feel free to reach out to your student’s teachers if you did not have a chance to meet with them. We strive to create a community where all stakeholders are supported.

As described in the September newsletter, STEM School Highlands Ranch has a Strategic Plan that is designed to guide the school’s overall focus. The first pillar included our focus on Community Alignment and replication. This month, it is relevant to focus on Independent Funding, a second pillar.

At the STEM Board of Directors meeting on October 11, the Board discussed and passed a resolution to support the Douglas County School District Mill Levy Override (MLO) and Bond Initiatives.

As described on the DCSD website, each school district can request additional local funding through a local MLO. This funding will help us to support staff and teachers by bringing pay to a level that is more competitive with neighboring school districts. If the MLO passes, STEM staff will receive, on average, an additional 9-12% in compensation.

DCSD currently receives 12% additional funding thanks to previous MLOs. However, neighboring school districts are closer to or at the full 25%, making it difficult for us to compete for staff.

FACT: Cherry Creek School District receives $1,951 more per student in Mill Levy Override funding than DCSD.

Local voter-approved general obligation bonds are used by school districts for capital needs. If the Bond passes, It is expected that we will receive additional funds to replace a few of the Roof Top Units (RTUs) that need updates. More information related to the DCSD MLO and Bond can be viewed on the DCSD DCSD website Funding Needs.

STEM School also has initiatives and goals related to Independent Funding, as outlined in the Strategic Plan. The overall goal includes the following:

To raise a minimum of $3M in the 2023/2024 School Year.

This goal represents approximately 20% of our per-pupil revenue. We plan to accomplish this goal by:

  • Seeking government grants that support the mission and vision of the school.
  • Pursuing foundation and other private grants that support our mission and vision.
  • Supporting private partnerships that provide a meaningful benefit to the STEM community.
  • Coordinating with the PTO on capital campaigns and other large goal fundraising efforts.

During the 2021-2022 school year, we secured a $50,000 Concurrent Enrollment Expansion grant from the Colorado Department of Education that supports credit toward internships for high school students. In addition, this grant is also supporting teacher professional development and furthering teachers in paying for college credits that allow them to teach concurrent enrollment classes. We will continue to focus on developing partnerships with a wide range of organizations to promote and foster our student’s aspirations.

The community can support our efforts through donations, matching funds from organizations, and supporting our Parent Teacher Organization through the STEM Gives campaign. When making direct donations, you can indicate if the donation goes to a specific group or the general account.

STEM School Highlands Ranch continues to be in a strong financial position. It is imperative that we continue to focus on independent funding strategies in addition to the per-pupil revenue received. Transparency related to funding is essential. For specific financial information, please view the Financial Transparency Page on the school website. If you have questions or would like to support our funding efforts, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Karen Johnson, PhD
Interim CEO

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