Welcome to the June edition of “This Month at the DPS Board”, a monthly newsletter sharing information about the Denver Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education.
Our goal is simple: to share what is happening at school board meetings so you can engage with the board and the district even if you cannot attend hours of meetings every month.
Note: The DPS Board of Directors is off for the month of July so we will resume our coverage following the August meetings.
Work Session – June 2, 2022
LGBTQ+ History Presentation
In honor of Pride Month, two DPS high school students presented an overview of LGBTQ+ history and the importance of LGBTQ+ inclusion in DPS curriculums and schools.
DMLK Student Presentation: African American Library
Students from DMLK spoke about their trip to Washington D.C. and shared reflections on their experience and asked the district to commit to ensuring thorough inclusion of African American history in DPS schools by upholding and ensuring implementation of the Know Justice Know Peace Resolution.
Declining Enrollment Committee Presentation and Discussion
Superintendent Marrero and district staff presented an update on the district’s Declining Enrollment Advisory Committee work. First, the presentation covered the impact that declining enrollment has on students, teachers, and leaders in DPS such as insufficient opportunities for student interventions, teachers teaching multiple grade levels, lack of mental health/student supports, staff turnover and cutting programs. The Committee’s recommendations for criteria to identify schools for potential consolidation are outlined below.
Declining Enrollment Advisory Committee Recommendations
The Committee proposed three criteria for identifying Elementary and Middle Schools that are potential candidates for consolidation. Any school identified by one or more of these criteria is considered a potential candidate for consolidation.
Criteria 1: Identify District-run schools with critically low enrollment
Criteria 1 identifies District schools with critically low enrollment that are unable to provide quality programming without budget assistance or external sources of funding. Any District Elementary or Middle School with fewer than 215 students (not including ECE students) is considered a potential candidate for consolidation with neighboring schools.
Criteria 2: Proactively Identifying District-run Schools with Declining Enrollment
Criteria 2 proactively identifies District schools that are declining in enrollment before they enter a state of critically low enrollment. Any District Elementary or Middle School with fewer than 275 students and projecting an approximately 8-10% reduction over the next 2 years is considered a potential candidate for consolidation with neighboring schools.
Criteria 3: Financially Insolvent Charter Schools
Criteria 3 identifies Charter schools that are failing to remain financially solvent. Any Charter Elementary or Middle school that is not financially solvent for two or more years and identified as “High Risk” according to their Financial Performance Framework (FPF) and the Enrollment sub-section to be considered.
If a school is identified as a potential candidate for consolidation, it then moves to the next phase where all three equity guardrails must be satisfied. Additionally, a community-centered process for designing healthy consolidation plan must be in place.
- Ensuring Appropriate Programming for Students with Unique Needs
- Providing Access
- Promoting Equity
The Committee also made recommendations for implementation
- Preserving programming
- Considering consolidation radius
- Identifying adequate facilities
- Providing clarity of timelines
- Honoring school choice and retaining families in DPS
The board discussed the proposal identifying questions and concerns including the consideration of charter partner engagement, academic considerations, and plans to communicate with the DPS community.
Community Engagement Planning
Director Quattlebaum and Director Baldermann presented an overview of the proposed Community Engagement Governance Policy which aims to ensure the Denver Public Schools Board of Directors has a sustainable connection to the community in alignment with district Board Policies.
The board is expected to vote on whether to adopt the policy by the end of the summer.
Updates/Presentation of Healthy Start Times Committee Work & Discussion
In April 2021, the DPS Board of Education passed the Healthy Start Times Resolution stating that all middle schools and high schools (district-managed and charters) start no earlier than 8:20 a.m. each school day to support healthy sleep habits in adolescents. Multiple studies have demonstrated the benefits of changing to a later school start time including better academic outcomes, better attendance rates, higher graduation rates, less depression, and fewer car crashes.
The Committee began community engagement in October 2021 to collect information on opportunities, concerns, and support needed. The committee collected feedback from 12,000 community members, primarily via survey. New Healthy Start Times were shared in May 2022 to “allow ample time for families to plan for 23-24 School Choice”. The current focus is on school specific mitigation and implementation planning and the Committee will continue to collect leader feedback and support highly impacted stakeholders.
Transportation Impact of Healthy Start Times
Schools that will have full transportation cuts beginning 2023-2024 include Denison Montessori, Denver Language School, Polaris, STRIVE- Sunnyside.
Denver School of the Arts will only receive service to the Far Northeast region.
Morey Middle School will maintain Highly Gifted and Talented transportation services in the Southwest, Central, and Far Northeast regions and will maintain general education and special education routing as well.
Shuttle service will not be impacted. Schools not serviced by DPS transportation will be able to select bell times for the 23/24 Choice window.
District 5 Vacancy Discussion
Board members discussed priorities for selecting the candidate for the district 5 vacancy including a commitment to equity, Black Excellence plans and the Know Justice Know Peace resolution. Additionally, board members stated a desire for the candidate to demonstrate a willingness to collaborate to implement policy governance and to build a relationship with Dr. Marrero and district staff.
The board discussed individual candidates and shared strengths and concerns about each.
Focus on Achievement – June 6, 2022
Staff presented the Strategic Regional Analysis (SRA), which represents what is happening across the district in terms of enrollment and school capacity. Overall, enrollment is forecast to continue to decline through 2026 and likely to continue beyond. This year’s SRA includes census data, which is unique. This decline in enrollment started in 2014 and has continued due to “slowing birth rates” and increasing housing costs leading to smaller household size. These factors lead to smaller elementary enrollment and then declines at the middle and high school levels as those students move through the system. According to the SRA, a growing proportion of DPS students are white, while the percentage of Hispanic students has steadily declined. The percentage of Black and other minority students has remained steady. Any growth expected is in the northern part of Central Park and the DIA Gateway area.
The Multilingual Education District-wide Advisory Committee (MLE DAC) meets monthly and provides a forum for parents whose children speak a language other than English to learn how DPS is supporting their children and other multilingual learners. Multilingual councils should exist at the school level as well. There are 205 languages spoken throughout DPS. The top eight most spoken languages are provided interpretation services as standard practice and interpretation is available in other languages as requested.
Dr. Marrero presented an update on the strategic plan, which is being called DPS Thrives and is framed as a roadmap. The process of developing the roadmap has been done in three phases: phase one was the listening and learning tour, phase two was engagement with the transition team to develop recommendations, and phase three is developing the next “strategic roadmap.” The goal is to finalize this roadmap by early summer 2022. The updated mission statement for DPS is informed by their equity statement and is as follows:
Educational equity is our collective responsibility. We prepare students for career, college, and life. We create conditions and partnerships where students, families and team members belong and thrive.
Staff presented emergency or crisis situation communication protocols. There are three communications protocols that are used depending on the situation and timing.
School Board Meeting – June 9, 2022
The board honored Director Reverend Brad Laurvick’s as it was his last meeting as part of the board. A resolution to select a replacement was voted on and Charmaine Lindsay was selected to fill the District 5 vacancy.
Executive Limitations 12 Revisions
Revisions for Executive Limitation (EL) 12 were read. EL 12 allows for more flexibility for innovation schools and their contracts. There was discussion about the viability of passing this revision, but the board voted to hold discussion and the 2nd reading until the next board meeting on June 16.
The board voted to deny three charter school applications, STEM, 5280, and RAAD. STEM was denied prior to public comment but 5280 and RAAD were held for after public comment. 5280 was denied because of questions around “viability” and even though the board agreed that RAAD’s arts programing is needed in the district, they voted to deny the school with the suggestion to add this type of programing to an already existing district school.
Board Retreat – June 16, 2022
The board stated a commitment to ensure a variety of voices are heard in decision making, explain to the community their role as board members and opportunities for the board to hear concerns. Board members shared ideas about ways to incorporate this work including holding recurring community meetings or visiting schools.
Public Comment Discussion
The board considered a draft proposal around changing where monthly public comment occurs (GP.15). If passed, these changes would go into effect for the September board meeting. Currently, public comment happens during the monthly board meeting and the board is working to adjust the timing, so they have a gap between public comment and voting during the board meeting.
This proposal would shift public comment to the Monday prior to the monthly board meeting. It was suggested during the retreat that the “Focus on Achievement” meeting be renamed to be called “Public Comment and Progress Monitoring” meeting. Public comment would still take place in person (with access to free parking) and virtually to allow individuals to determine what works best for them. Board members also discussed how to remove barriers for students to engage. They are considering allowing students to submit a recorded public comment for board members to watch prior to the meeting.
Special Board Meeting – June 16, 2022
The board voted to approve the EL 12 Revision, closing the board’s 2021-2022 fiscal year.
The board is officially off for the month of July and will reconvene for the new year in August.
Engage with the Board
Do you want to let the board know your thoughts on any of these topics? You can sign up for public comment and speak directly to the board about what matters to you. You can sign up here.