Board of Education Meeting Update – April 20, 2017

Categories: News

Board Honors Long-time DPS Employees for Years of Service

Members of Team DPS who are celebrating 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 or 50 years with DPS were honored at tonight’s Board of Education meeting. Of the 225 team members recognized, 12 educators are celebrating 45 years with the district and three have been with us an amazing 50 years!

Congratulations and thank you to Valerie Kluver, Gordon Heaton and Penny Ware-Ashby, who are all now substitute teachers and have each served DPS for half a century.

DPS Gifted and Talented team member Rallie Ginsburg — who was recently highlighted on 9News for her 100th birthday — was also recognized for 45 years of service with DPS.

Superintendent Tom Boasberg also was acknowledged for 10 years of service with the district.

Congratulations and hats off to all!

Board Adopts Resolution on Federal Education Budget Proposal

Urges Congress not to Cut Vital Education Programs   

Tonight, the Board of Education approved a resolution regarding the proposed federal education budget. The declaration expresses the board’s concern that the Trump administration’s budget proposal eliminates or significantly reduces funding for a wide range of programs that benefit DPS students and families, including:

  • After school programs, which serve roughly 1.6 million children annually, including more than 3,500 students in DPS-sponsored programs alone, and which have been shown to increase academic performance, improve classroom behavior, decrease risky activities including drug use, encourage physical activity, and provide a safe and constructive childcare option for working families.
  • Title II, which provides professional development and other supports to DPS teachers.
  • Pell grants, which many DPS graduates from low-income families rely on in part to be able to afford to attend institutions of higher education.
  • Financial aid for extremely low-income students.
  • The federal work-study program.
  • Programs who partner with AmeriCorps, whose fellows serve more than 5,000 DPS

students throughout the district through small group math and literacy tutoring.

  • Medicaid, which provides children’s health care insurance for approximately 49,406

DPS students, or 54% of our student body.

“Tonight we honored a great many people with 20, 25, 30, even 45 years of service in our schools, and they did it because they believe in public education and that it can work,” said Board Secretary Happy Haynes. “We, on this board, will be the first ones to say that we have improvements to make and a long way to go, but this is not the time to say we quit on public education; this is the time to say we double down.”

The document states that “the district respectfully urges Congress to continue its support for the vital resources in the current federal education budget and not to approve the cuts in the Trump Administration’s proposed budget.”

DPS SchoolChoice Program Ranked No. 1 in the Country

The board also received an update from DPS’ Planning and Enrollment Services on the district’s SchoolChoice program, which The Brookings Institution again ranked as No. 1 in the country for school choice this year. For the sixth year in a row, DPS has provided students with equitable access to all its schools through its unique and nationally-renowned enrollment process.

This year’s school choice process saw another year of strong participation and match rates:

Participation

SchoolChoice participation was on par with the highest rates recorded since the start of unified enrollment. This year, 87% of kindergarteners and sixth-graders, and 73% of ninth-graders took part in the process. Participation was flat year-over-year due to minimal policy changes impacting enrollment.

High-Quality Seats

Seats in DPS’ top-performing schools are now being filled at a higher rate: 90% of seats in schools rated blue or green on the School Performance Framework are now occupied, versus 66% in the district’s lowest-rated schools. However, more high-quality seats are needed; 63% of participants selected a blue or green school as their first choice, but just 50% of available seats met that criteria.

Match Rates

Match rates for first-choice schools were comparable to last year for kindergarten (85%) and sixth grade (81%), but down by 7.5% for ninth grade (79%). This decrease can be attributed largely to high interest in East High School, combined with fewer seats offered; as well as high interest in ninth grade at 6-12 schools, such as Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST) and KIPP, combined with few open seats for that grade.

Match rates for first- or second-choice schools were strong: 93% for kindergarten, 92% for sixth grade and 93% for ninth grade.

See the entire analysis here.

The board also issued a resolution demonstrating its support for an emphasis on the DPS shared core values of Equity and Accountability in its SchoolChoice process. Read the resolution here.

African American Equity Task Force Update

The board heard an update from the African American Equity Task Force, which the board and superintendent commissioned to respond to the Dr. Bailey report regarding factors contributing to the opportunity gap that exists for our African-American students and educators.

Comprised of DPS and charter employees, community members, parents and students, this task force is charged with the development of recommended actions and resources needed to address six levers of impact, including:

  • Access: Examine factors affecting access for African-American students to high-quality schools, programs and classes, as well as opportunities that increase achievement specifically for African-American males.
  • Community and Family Engagement: Examine factors that will foster more meaningful relationships and engagement with African-American parents and community members.
  • Discipline: Examine factors impacting disproportionate discipline rates, and develop recommendations for alternatives to suspension.
  • Instructional Practice: Examine factors that generate an increase in the number of culturally-competent teachers.
  • Human Capital: Examine factors that will impact greater recruitment and retention, and leadership development of African-American educators.
  • Whole Child: Examine factors that result in meaningful social-emotional support and relationship building with students and parents.

As task force members analyzed the problem and researched solutions, they listened to community members share their lived experiences and reviewed data about the efforts that are currently in place. Challenges in closing the opportunity gap are multi-dimensional, so participants worked to identify factors related to mindset, skills, knowledge and capacity that were reproducing inequity. As they’ve moved to identify solutions, they prioritized the most impactful contributing root causes to address.

“When the school bell rings, many of our students and employees are feeling disenfranchised and feeling left behind. So, we recognize that continuous and accelerated improvements are necessary to … drive the transformational change we are recommending,” said Troy Garner, co-chair of the Black Employees Superintendent’s Team (BEST) and African American Equity Task Force contributor. “We are excited that DPS is working to understand and implement practices that support equity in our schools.”

DPS has worked to close gaps while fostering a culture of equity in our schools and departments, and has made notable progress in many areas; however, gaps continue to be persistent and pervasive. Examining the impact of our efforts through the lens of the lived experience of our students, families and educators is an important step in designing culturally-responsive solutions that will achieve transformational improvement.

Read the full update here.