Moving Forward – The Battle With 4A


Dr. KC Somers, District 38 Superintendent. Photo by Hannah Miller.

A story of defeat, challenges, and finding the power to keep moving forward

Lewis-Palmer District 38 has had a long history of defeat when it comes to seeking financial aid. With the recent unsuccessful passing of ballot measure 4A, teachers and staff within the district have begun to lose faith in the district’s ability to get an increase in income to support all teachers and staff. This has resulted in many contemplating leaving and starting up again in another district, leaning towards one that offers an increase in salary. Some have also considered early retirement, and some have left District 38 already. With the district offering lower wages compared to other districts, there is a high probability of expecting a decrease in qualified teachers, leading to a potential risk in decrease of academic quality and school environment.

At the end of the day, how can you have an education system without teachers?

-Dr. KC Somers District 38 Superintendent

District 38 superintendent KC Somers is clearly frustrated with the issue, struggling to understand how the Tri-Lakes community can, “trust us enough to take care of you guys, but not trust us with their money.” After the unfortunate failure, Somers has begun to take on the issue in a new light, preparing to take better action in the future by already brainstorming new ideas and fighting for community trust to earn their support to better provide for the teachers. “At the end of the day,” said Somers, “how can you have an education system without teachers?”

Stephanie Markle, a social studies teacher at Palmer Ridge, believes that there was one major problem that contributed to the failure of the MLO: communication. She believes that, “more outreach with the community groups so that everyone is clear on the funding,” is the next step the district needs to take in order to provide clarity for the next attempt of the MLO. Somers also agrees, stating that, “communication continues to be a challenge, but also an opportunity to work more closely with our community to create better communication, but also better education.” Both Somers and Markle, in addition to other district staff, feel that if the overall communication was improved, the next edition of the MLO that tries to pass will have a much better chance at succeeding.

Stephanie Markle, social studies teacher at Palmer Ridge High School.

If the MLO initiative had passed, it would have enabled a pay raise for teachers and staff across the district to bring pay up to the average for nearby districts. This would have been a huge step for the district financially, as the last successful MLO the district received was in 1999, followed by the bond to build Palmer Ridge in 2006. Sarah Brown, a psychology teacher from Palmer Ridge, has expressed her disappointment with the citizens of this school district, feeling unsupported by the community when giving her full effort everyday and failing to be recognized. “It is frustrating that we as teachers work super hard all the time, work way past our contract hours, and we show those results in our test scores and state ranking and the school community still does not support us.” said Brown. “I have a masters degree and I make just as much as my brother who sells shoes at a sports store. That is really unsettling.”

Sarah Brown, psychology teacher at Palmer Ridge High School. Photo by Hannah Miller.

Another major problem linked with teacher pay is teacher retention. Teacher retention is a problem nationwide, and has to do with keeping teachers employed in education. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected the staffing of a majority of schools and businesses across the nation, and generated an economic turmoil that the nation is still suffering from today. Palmer Ridge High School was one of a few schools that stayed open during the pandemic, originally starting online when the pandemic first hit, moving to a hybrid schedule in fall of 2020, and eventually resuming full in person learning during the fall of 2021. “We stayed open during COVID and we excelled during the pandemic, so people still think that we do not deserve a pay raise is hard,” said Markle, “it is very hard.” The efforts of the Lewis-Palmer School District teaching and administration staff were even highlighted in an article by the Washington Post, with reporter Perry Stein commenting that, “overall, results from standardized tests show that the average student in Lewis-Palmer made gains in reading. While they lost ground in math, they performed better than the average Coloradan.”

“We desire to be the best possible schools in the best possible community, and that takes everyone working together.”

– Dr. KC Somers, District 38 Superintendent

“We desire to be the best possible schools in the best possible community, and that takes everyone working together,” said Somers. With the community better understanding the effects of the MLO and further supporting the teachers and staff within the district, there is a high chance that it will lead to maintaining the high quality education and staffing in Lewis-Palmer District 38. As for the present, Somers wants the teachers to, “understand that we are going to continue to fight for them,” and that the district will, “continue to work closely with teachers to make it an environment where they do feel valued and supported as best they can with what we do have, not with what we do not have.”