Sept. 30, 2021
Dear DPS Families,
Please take a few minutes to watch this video with an important message from Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero on a pause in the small-schools process.
Full message from Dr. Marrero:
Since I have assumed the role of superintendent at Denver Public Schools, I have been committed to engaging in a broad and deep Listening & Learning Tour. I thank the Board of Education for allowing me to start my journey in this manner, as it has allowed me to meet with as many key stakeholders as possible to ask my three key questions: (What is working well? What needs to improve? and What key advice do you have for me?). It has also allowed me to hear concerns, identify barriers, and work toward building connections and trust.
To date, I have engaged with 116 groups and spent several hundred hours engaging with the community. During this time, I have, intentionally, not responded to system-wide questions nor have I made macro decisions, to ensure I am engaging thoughtfully and collaboratively.
There has been one current issue, however, that continues to dominate much of the conversations in several parts of the city. And I would not be the community leader that I strive to be if I did not show that I am being responsive and understanding of the concern and strain that it is putting on our community at a time of frequent challenges and anxieties created by the pandemic.
The Board of Education passed a “Small Schools Resolution,” on June 10, 2021, before my arrival as superintendent. The Resolution outlines a process the district would undertake to address demographic shifts that have led to under-enrolled elementary schools in three areas of Denver. As I have continued my Listening & Learning Tour over the past several weeks, this issue has risen in urgency in the community and has begun to dominate the conversations. I want to thank the parents, educators, and community members who have spoken so powerfully about this issue and on behalf of their neighborhoods and families. Your voices have been heard, and it has become clear to me that the work and focus that is needed at this time to honor that Resolution would be a major obstacle in achieving the goals of the Listening & Learning Tour and in the recovery of our school district from the effects of the pandemic.
As a result, I have made the decision to pause the work on the Small Schools resolution for the time being. My attention and the attention of the leadership of our district need to be on listening, learning from, and being responsive to our community, and it needs to be on recovery from the pandemic, which continues to pose challenges in terms of learning conditions and staffing.
I thank the School Leaders, Regional Teams, and our Senior Leadership Team, for their time and effort around the implementation following the Resolution. I am excited to collaborate with this team as we create the strategy that will enhance programming and resources at these schools and dive into the success of this district for years to come.
Once we are farther along in the recovery from the pandemic and once I have concluded the full Listening & Learning Tour that has been planned as a critical part of my first school year as superintendent, I will work collaboratively with the Board of Education and the community to re-engage in this conversation and make a determination on the best path forward to ensure we’re offering great schools with a full range of academic and support programs to all of our scholars and families.
Dr. Alex Marrero