Questions, Concerns and Myths

As Poudre School District is engaged in Long-Range Planning work – involving boundary adjustments, school consolidations, and educational program changes – our community can get information from many different sources. This is, in many ways, a good thing. It shows that people are engaged and invested in this complex and important topic, and they are seeking and sharing varying perspectives.  

On the flip side, things can get lost in the mix. There's a lot to track and digest, and it can become difficult to figure out what’s fact or fiction. 

Continuing to provide clear and accurate communications throughout this process, we are addressing common questions and concerns, rumors and, in some cases, disinformation that is circulating throughout our communities. What follows is a list of things we’ve heard and the district’s responses, separated by category for your convenience. 


Where to get key information

What we’ve heard: It’s hard to find information about this process.

The response:  

  • Please know we are doing our best to keep our community informed, through accurate, timely and credible communications. Our hope is that our words and actions demonstrate transparency. 

  • The web section at was created to house all information about the process in one location. The page includes maps, data, reports, the committee’s charge, every possible scenario presented to the Board of Education, answers to frequently asked questions, a schedule of listening sessions, key terms and definitions, videos of board presentations, district emails sent on long-range planning topics in the last year, and more!  

  • The page also houses Facilities Planning Steering Committee updates, which are emailed the day after every committee meeting to all parents/guardians, staff, and anyone who signs up at this link. 


PSD Facilities Planning Steering Committee

What we’ve heard: There isn’t enough time to review the possible options, available data and information and provide feedback to the Facilities Planning Steering Committee.

The response:

The committee listened and made a change. The deadline for the online questionnaire to provide the committee with feedback has been extended to 5 p.m. April 17 (it was originally set for April 5).

What we’ve heard: Some have wondered whether the Facilities Planning Steering Committee is considering equity, as it develops possible scenarios. They’re also wondering what other criteria the committee has considered.

The response:

This has been an ongoing topic of discussion among committee members. Considering guidelines used by other school districts going through school consolidation processes, the committee identified the criteria and equity guidelines included in this document to guide their work.  

What we’ve heard: Committee membership includes representation for charter schools, and charter representatives are advocating for closures.

The response:

The committee is NOT tasked with making decisions about boundaries or consolidation to create space for charter schools (those that are PSD-authorized or state-authorized). There is no committee seat for members representing the interests of charter schools. The 37-member committee does have representation from staff working in or parents of students attending school in the following areas: 

  • Fort Collins High attendance area – 2 parents, 2 staff, 1 administrator 

  • Fossil Ridge High attendance area – 2 parents, 1 administrator 

  • Poudre High attendance area – 2 parents, 2 staff, 1 administrator 

  • Rocky Mountain High attendance area – 2 parents, 2 staff, 1 administrator 

  • Timnath Middle-High attendance area – 2 parents, 2 staff, 1 administrator 

  • Wellington Middle-High attendance area – 2 parents, 2 staff 

The committee also has representatives for: 

  • Alternative schools and Integrated Services for students with disabilities - 2 parents, 1 staff, 1 administrator 

  • PSD employee organizations: Poudre Education Association (1), Poudre Association of School Executives (1), and Association of Classified Employees (1). 

  • Community members without students in PSD - 2 

  • PSD Central Office – 1 specialist 


Capacity and Data

What we’ve heard: Some in the community have raised questions about the credibility of the data being used by the Facilities Planning Steering Committee to develop possible scenarios. Specifically, some are wondering about the accuracy of school capacity

The response:

We stand by the data. But we know this can be somewhat complicated to unpack, so we’ll explain where the data came from and what they mean. 



  • To inform its long-range planning, PSD hired a consulting company called FLO Analytics to provide demographic information, such as enrollment projections, and calculate how many students could reasonably attend a school. This number will hereafter be referred to as a school’s capacity. 

  • How did they decide each school’s capacity? Using floor plans and a formula. The steps in the “How capacity is calculated” section below detail how they arrived at a capacity number for each building. 

  • These calculations use a tried-and-true formula. However, they can also be subjective, in that some people may think more or fewer rooms should be counted as learning spaces.  

  • As the steering committee began its work, PSD’s architect took a deeper look at the capacity figures, starting with a review of each school’s floor plan. FLO’s capacity numbers were refined to better reflect the unique architectural characteristics of each school. For example, many schools have classrooms that are smaller than 700 square feet. Although these spaces were still counted in the total capacity, they were assigned a smaller occupancy than 25 or 30.  

  • Some schools ended up with the same capacity numbers. Others, however, had minor adjustments.  


How capacity is calculated 

Step 1: Look at floor plans for each school and count every room at least 700-square-feet in size that could be used for learning. 

  • Spaces that cannot accommodate student learning were not included in this calculation, regardless of room size. Examples include hallways, administration areas, offices, cafeterias, locker rooms, bathrooms, mechanical rooms, and other support spaces. 

  • Auditoriums were not counted unless the space (usually the stage), was used for classes, such as band or orchestra.  

  • The goal of reaching a capacity number is to see how many students can be learning in a school at any given time on any given day, based on how the school operates.  

  • Because middle and high schools shift classes all day, their specials rooms and gyms were counted as learning spaces.  

  • In elementary schools, however, gyms, music rooms, art rooms, and computer labs were not included in calculating capacity because when students use those rooms, their regular classroom sits empty – the rooms are not used simultaneously. 

Step 2: Multiply the number of learning spaces in a school by 25 for elementary schools or 30 for middle and high schools. 

  • Why 25 and 30? To reflect a standard class size capacity. In other words, the typical elementary class can comfortably accommodate 25 students at a time, and the typical middle or high school class can comfortably accommodate 30 students at a time. 

  • While elementary students are physically smaller than middle and high school students, elementary classrooms need more space per student for their learning needs, such as having circle time, independent reading in pods, more opportunities for movement, etc. Elementary classrooms also require more student supervision and lower staff-to-student ratios. 

  • Neither Early Childhood Education rooms nor Early Childhood enrollment were included in calculations for elementary schools, as early childhood classrooms operate differently from other classes.  

  • The formula did not vary based on a school’s programming, such as International Baccalaureate, Core Knowledge, or STEM. 

Step 3: Take the number from Step 2 and multiply it by a buffer percentage. The buffer accounts for the reality that class sizes vary across grade levels and subjects in a school. In other words, not every classroom will have the same number of students. 

  • For an elementary school or a middle-high school, the buffer is 80% 

  • For a middle school, the buffer is 75% 

  • For a high school, the buffer is 85% 


Capacity Examples 

  • Curious how this formula might look? Here’s an example – let's say an elementary school has 24 classrooms, all larger than 700 square feet. 24 classrooms x 25 kids on average per classroom = 600. After applying the 80% buffer, the final capacity is really 480. The 480 figure is the one the steering committee would use for its work evaluating schools. 

  • Here’s another example – a high school with 40 classrooms would have a capacity of 1,020. The formula for this calculation is 40 x 30 = 1,200, and 1,200 x 0.85 (85% buffer) = 1,020. 


Capacity Percentages 

You may have seen a map on the PSD website that lists a percent capacity for each PSD non-charter school. These percentages divide the number of students currently enrolled at a school by the capacity number for the school.  

  • Let's use the elementary example above, where a building has a capacity of 480. If the school’s current enrollment is 300, its capacity percentage is 62.5% (keep in mind, without the buffer, it would be even lower: 50%). 

  • If the school currently has 500 students, its capacity percentage is 104%.  But keep in mind the elementary buffer aims for an average of 20 students per classroom. So, if a building is at or above 100% capacity, it is not violating code or completely out of space. 


How capacity differs from occupancy numbers: ‘I’m worried that this means schools will be packed with students. Is the fire marshal OK with this?’  

  • This capacity calculation is very different from the maximum occupancy number a Fire Marshal would use.  

  • This maximum occupancy, per building code, considers every room in a building, not just classrooms, and is calculated on a strict square-foot basis. 

  • This typically results in a maximum occupancy much higher – in some cases, about two times higher – than the calculation that uses 25 or 30 students per classroom. 

What we’ve heard: There’s a rumor that preschools are going away in PSD.

The response: 

There are absolutely no plans for PSD to stop offering preschool altogether. There may be some changes to the school locations where preschool is currently offered depending on the scenarios ultimately put forward by the PSD Facilities Steering Planning Committee and the Board of Education’s decision about how to move forward for the 2025-26 school year.  

What we've heard: What student enrollment data are accurate?

The response:

Going directly to the source is important. Here is a spreadsheet with Colorado Department of Education enrollment data that PSD's Finance Department presented April 9 to the Board of Education. 


Finances and Staffing

What we’ve heard: Is there a place where we can get financial information about PSD and other school districts? We’re looking for an objective, outside source.

The response:

The Colorado Department of Education makes numerous financial reports available, including those that can be used to compare spending.  

This resource allows users to compare school districts:  

This resource allows user to compare schools:

What we’ve heard: Taxpayers who live in Timnath have funds from property taxes diverted away from PSD to their Urban Renewal Authority (URA). Is this true?

The response:

Timnath property tax dollars are diverted for Tax Increment Financing (TIF) by Larimer County for the Timnath Development Authority (TDA). The State funding formula for schools provides backfill to cover the diversion. Said another way, property taxes paid by residents for Timnath are partially diverted to the Timnath TDA, but in the end the State backfills the diversion so PSD receives the full funding that it should from Timnath taxpayers. This is true for all the development authorities in our District.

What we’ve heard: Some in the community have raised questions and concerns about benefits and pay for the superintendent and the members of his Cabinet.

The response:  

  • PSD strives to offer competitive pay and benefits to all employees, and all PSD staff have received compensation increases each of the past two years. PSD has also increased the starting salary for teachers each year, for multiple recent years. 
  • The oldest records in our financial system show pay structures like we have today for members of the superintendent’s Cabinet dating back to 2002, but institutional knowledge suggests that they likely existed prior to then. These pay structures are not new in PSD or Superintendent Kingsley’s administration. They have existed for at least 20 years. But it’s reasonable and understandable for our community to have questions about them. 

  • An HR analysis found that the salaries of Cabinet members who oversee operational departments (i.e. Information Technology, Finance, Operations, Communications, Legal, Human Resources) receive lower pay, compared to peers in similar positions in other school districts, and significantly lower pay than people in similar roles in other industries. 

  • Four members of the Cabinet received a 10.28% salary increase for the 2023-24 school year, the same as the average compensation increase negotiated for all PSD staff for the 2023-24 school year. 

  • Five members of Cabinet received salary increases of 13.04% and 17.72%, which included the same 10.28% increase, as part of the average compensation increase for all PSD staff, as well as a market adjustment due to changes in their roles. To be clear, the increases were 13.04% to 17.72% total, not on top of the 10.28% average for all employees. Four of these five individuals are female, and the increases also addressed gender pay equity.  

  • As part of that, market adjustments are made so PSD staff are being paid comparably with people in similar positions within education and in other industries. PSD market adjustments are made in the middle of comparable positions, not at the top of the range.  

  • Two members of Cabinet – area assistant superintendents – are new to their roles for the 2023-24 school year. 

  • Additionally, it is worth noting there was a position funded for another member of Cabinet when Superintendent Kingsley arrived. That became the chief equity and academic officer. When the individual in that position left PSD, we reorganized, and that position was changed to a third area assistant superintendent. Previously, supervision of principals and multiple department directors was divided among an elementary and secondary assistant superintendent; changing that supervision to three area superintendents was done to create enhanced systems and cohesion. 

  • In line with building data-driven leadership, the superintendent created the chief institutional effectiveness officer position. 

  • As has been reported publicly, current PSD Superintendent Brian Kingsley’s salary for the 2022-23 school year was the lowest among superintendents of Colorado's 10 largest school districts, according to Colorado Department of Education data. It was also lower than the superintendents of 12 of the 15 school districts in the state with 20,000 or more students. The board approved a raise of 6% from his first year's base pay, which was in line with staff compensation increases that year; then the board approved a 12% increase the second year for Superintendent Kingsley in the 2023-24 school year. This brought him more in line with other superintendents of school districts along the Front Range. 

  • The Board of Education votes to approve the superintendent’s contract. 

  • The superintendent determines the pay for members of the superintendent’s leadership Cabinet. This is not a board decision, but the board president attests to Cabinet contracts. 

What we’ve heard: Some have expressed concern over and called for an end to pay for Board of Education directors and “bonuses” for members of the superintendent’s Cabinet.

The response:  

  • School board members are NOT paid. As elected officials, they volunteer many hours of service to our community. 

  • As part of their total compensation, Cabinet members receive things on top of their base pay for items like health insurance, longevity, mileage, and holding a doctoral degree. These items do NOT include pay bonuses. 

  • What is longevity pay? There is a 4% longevity pay incentive after three years of service, which is based on the employee or Cabinet member's base pay. It is applied to all administrative positions, professional positions, and Cabinet positions. The longevity pay incentive for all these groups is 5% after eight completed years of service. 

What we’ve heard: Some in the community have raised questions and concerns about the number of staff in PSD’s central office.

The response:  

Generally, PSD’s central office operates with fewer staff in leadership positions than comparable districts across the Front Range. Please see the table below for a comparison of the number of Cabinet positions in PSD as well as the number of director and executive director level (or equivalent) positions compared to these same staffing statistics in St. Vrain, Boulder Valley, and Cherry Creek school districts.


School DistrictCabinet PositionsExecutive Director/Director Level (or equivalent) Positions
Poudre School District12*37
St. Vrain School District1351
Boulder Valley School District1232
Cherry Creek School District1559


*The PSD superintendent is a part of Cabinet, but the Board of Education approves the contract of the superintendent. The superintendent determines the pay for members of the superintendent’s leadership Cabinet. This is not a board decision, but the board president attests to their contracts. 


Said simply, PSD’s central leadership team and central office is among the smallest of comparable school districts in our state. Despite the small size of our central staff, the district is committed to continuing to provide high-quality educational experiences and support to all our students. We will continue to do so as effectively and efficiently as possible while we collectively adjust to declining enrollments across our system. 

  • Not every school district or individual has the same definition of who “central office” staff are. Every district may put different positions into different categories. 

  • Because of that, you can’t make a perfect, apples-to-apples comparison of PSD staffing with other school districts’ staffing. 

  • In PSD, positions are generally put into three categories: administrative/professional, licensed/teachers, or classified.  

  • “Central office” staff positions fall into all three categories. They are not all administrators or executives, contrary to what some may believe. 

  • As one example, PSD has in the past several years significantly invested in mental health and belonging, adding mental health professionals who directly support students. Many staff in the departments of Integrated Services and Language, Culture & Equity are also in schools, directly supporting students. Those individuals are part of the “central office.”  

  • As we face declining enrollments and reductions in budgets across the PSD system, school and central office budgets are being reduced. This means that the number of staff across PSD is also being reduced.  

  • Approximately 85% of PSD’s total budget is targeted to schools, including teachers, paraprofessionals, principals and assistants, mental health, multilingual learners and those with special education needs.  

  • Approximately 15% of the budget is used to support centralized services including Human Resources, Finance, Information Technology and Operations, and others, which also serve our students and staff. For more information on PSD’s budget and how it is allocated, please visit the fiscal transparency page of the PSD website here:  

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