These posts are the opinions of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of A+ Colorado.

Raising Awareness of Pension Inequality


Dear A+ Members and Friends,

We are writing to make you aware of legislation that could save Denver Public Schools over $20 million per year. This funding would greatly benefit both district run and charter schools. House Bill 15-1391 would lower Denver Public School’s employer contribution rate into the state pension system by matching it to the rate other districts pay.

We ask that you join us in calling on the General Assembly to pass this legislation by reaching out to your elected representative today.

A+ Denver publicly supported Denver Public Schools’ merger with PERA in 2009, as it enabled the district to better support teachers, and provided teachers with more career flexibility. At that time, the agreement allowed DPS to join the state pension system, but required the district to make higher payments relative to other districts to address its pension liability. Now, five years later, Denver’s liability is 86% funded, compared to 64% of other school districts, and the district employer contribution rate is up for adjustment. A+ Denver stands by the original intent of this legislation and underscores the importance of adjusting Denver’s contribution rate to mirror that of every other district in the state.

Adjusting DPS’s employer contribution rate to that of every other Colorado school district will enable DPS to commit more resources to schools than it currently does. Furthermore, Denver charter schools will no longer be unfairly penalized compared to their non-chartered or non-Denver counterparts. The current employer contribution rate is a particularly bad deal for Denver charters because the employer contribution comes out of the schools’ budgets, sacrificing near-term school-level resources. Adding insult to injury, charter teachers are the least likely to see any benefit from the current pension system. Righting this imbalance is particularly critical for charter students; nearly 1 in 5 Denver students attend a charter school.

The answer to addressing PERA’s unfunded liability does not lie in maintaining Denver’s higher employer contribution rate. The pension system as a whole needs reform, to ensure it is adequately funded and structured in a way as to support the realities of the teaching profession today. Rejecting this legislation does not posit a long-term solution, and Denver kids’ education should not be compromised for the statewide pension system.

We urge you to speak up on behalf of Denver kids by letting your representative know you support this adjustment to DPS’ employer contribution rate, enabling more resources to flow to our schools and students. Thank you for your engagement and support.

A+ Denver