Dear Team DPS,
What does it take to ensure that every child thrives in our city? How do we ensure that all the children of Denver have access to great schools in their neighborhood? Why are there such large gaps in academic outcomes for different groups of our children in Denver? These are questions I heard repeatedly as I engaged with our DPS community in the superintendent search process – and these questions set the foundation of what I hope to answer as DPS’ superintendent.
In my role as superintendent, I want to re-focus our effort where it matters most: on creating classrooms that are vibrant centers of learning, where caring teachers are engaging their students in rigorous, culturally responsive experiences so that all children excel. Ensuring that this happens in every DPS classroom requires leadership from everyone — our Board of Education, and great teachers and leaders in every school. Our teachers and school leaders do the most important work in our society — preparing students for the future — and I am excited to work with them to create greater equity.
In this entry plan as superintendent, my goal is to create a foundation upon which we can build a stronger future – for our community, for our DPS team members and, most importantly, for our students. And I look forward to hearing your continued feedback to expand and update this plan as needed as we all strive, focus on and believe in our shared vision, that Every Child Succeeds.
Board Passes Black Excellence Resolution
Aiming to embrace the excellence of black and African-American students and prioritizing and targeting their academic achievement, the Denver Board of Education Thursday passed the Black Excellence Resolution.
“I want to recognize the beauty, diversity, strength and passion for black and African-American students of the organizations and people who worked with us not only on the resolution, but also on language and ideas to guide the leadership through this,” said Board Member Jennifer Bacon.
The board also directed Superintendent Susana Cordova to create a plan that will utilize the tools, systems, resources and talent that exist within our district and community — and increase the investment of students and their families in their own successes — by focusing on three main areas of work over the next three years:
• School-level: Prioritize black student success.
• Districtwide: Be a district that is community driven and expertly supported.
• Central office: Be equitable by design.
Susana will present her plan to the board by May 31, and the board also indicated that the plan must be ready to implement by the start of the 2019-20 school year. Stay tuned for more on this new initiative.
$45.8 Million in 2016 Bond Premium Funds Set for Schools
This week, Denver Board of Education approved the allocation of $45.8 million in 2016 bond premium funds for capital improvement projects across the district. Projects include athletic facility improvements, critical maintenance needs and classroom updates. The Bond Oversight Committee – a group made up of parents, teachers, industry representatives and stakeholders – determined the final recommendation after months of thoughtful deliberation that included a public comment session with school community members.
Committee co-chairs Kim Desmond and Russell Welch shared their thoughts on the process and the importance of outside accountability groups, like the Bond Oversight Committee.
DPS’ Balarat Outdoor Education Center Celebrates 50 Years
Balarat Outdoor Education Center provides DPS students with transformative outdoor educational experiences — inciting curiosity of the natural world, exploring clear night skies with city children who may have never seen the big dipper and encouraging students to connect with their environments.
This year marks its 50th anniversary. Patrick Emery, manager of Balarat, says that the school has been around for so long that a lot of people in the district consider it a rite of passage. As Patrick put it:
“What hooked me and continues to do so was, and is, the great group of people — the staff — who believe in outdoor education; the light in students’ eyes when they get a real-world connection to something they’ve read about or studied; and the opportunity to work in the most interactive, wonderful and wonder-full classroom available.”
Balarat gives students the hands-on opportunity to learn about science, Western history, environmental studies and leadership skills. During its five decades, Balarat has served more than 400,000 students and now averages 10,000 students a year.