Board of Education Meeting Update – January 10, 2019 Focus on Achievement

Financial State of the District – Preparation for the 2019-20 Budget 

At the January 10, 2019 Focus on Achievement session, the Board of Education reviewed the DPS Financial State of the District — an overview of the statewide budget assumptions, the impact to DPS, and a summary school budget timeline for the upcoming year.

Highlights from the presentation include:

  • The impact of the economic outlook for Colorado on DPS
  • Budgetary impacts from former Governor John Hickenlooper’s proposed budget and new Governor Jared Polis’ priorities, including fully funding kindergarten
  • The impact of TABOR and the Gallagher Amendment on the state budget and K-12 education funding
  • DPS’ 5-year financial outlook
  • Information pertaining to the upcoming district-managed school budget process
  • New funding weight for district-managed schools scoring Accredited on Watch (Yellow) on the School Performance Framework

Overall DPS and Statewide Budget

State funding, enrollment and employee compensation are major factors impacting the DPS budget. District leadership discussed these factors for 2019-20 school year with the the board this evening.

In addition, the proposal from former Governor Hickenlooper to reduce the Budget Stabilization Factor and the campaign proposal of Governor Polis to fully fund kindergarten in Colorado were discussed with the board. Both of those proposals have the potential to positively benefit DPS.

Finally, the outcome of ongoing negotiations with the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) will impact the budget and the 5-year financial forecast presented to the board this evening. The board heard an extensive update on the negotiations. The latest information and proposal can be found here.

The board is scheduled to review the proposed budget in May and vote on the budget June.

District-managed School Budget Timeline and Updates

School leaders informally began their budgeting process in the fall by anticipating future enrollment and staffing needs at their school. The formal school budgeting process kicks off Jan. 16 with a conference call for all school leaders hosted by Superintendent Susana Cordova. During that call, Cordova, Chief Financial Officer Mark Ferrandino and other district leaders will explain the overall funding picture for Colorado and DPS, as well as items of interest to school leaders in particular.

On Jan. 17, school leaders will receive their budgets for the 2019-20 school year.

Opportunity Gap Cohort Work on Culturally-responsive Education

The board also heard a presentation on the work of an Opportunity Gap cohort of schools to increase culturally-responsive education (CRE) in their schools.

Superintendent Susana Cordova said this work kicked off with a group that participated in the Public Education Leadership program two years ago “thinking deeply about the ways in which we can accelerate the performance of black and Latino, low-income students who tend to be underrepresented in the success we’ve seen, and really digging into our beliefs about culturally-responsive education.” The group created a theory of action that has been refined over time, and led to the Opportunity Gap cohort pilot that helps schools shift their practices to be more culturally responsive.

In the program, school leadership teams engage in data-driven collaboration with peers and focus their learning on a targeted group of underserved students.Through the multi-year program, school leadership teams identify the potential root causes of a disparity, then develop and implement action steps to transform school-based structures and practices to positively impact student success.

In culturally-responsive classrooms:

  • Teachers cultivate meaningful relationships with students and families
  • Teachers consistently communicate high expectations and empower students to drive their learning
  • Teachers facilitate rigorous instruction that validates and authentically incorporates students’ lived and historical experiences
  • So that all students succeed and become socially conscious contributing individuals.

Eddie Fergus, Ph.D., assistant professor of urban education at Temple University and principal manager of Collaborative Equity Solutions spoke with the board about his work with DPS on this program. “My focus has always been on how the social-cultural dynamics of race, language, ethnicity and gender interact with education policy and practice.”

Fergus talked through how he helps schools conduct a root cause analysis, including developing team buy-in, identifying the problem, collecting data and designing the plan to resolve the problem. He further discussed how bias-based beliefs about race contribute to issues in addressing the opportunity gap, including “colorblindness”, deficit thinking and poverty disciplining. Fergus also explained the trends in the solutions that are emerging across the Opportunity Gap cohort schools.

Voices from the Field

The board heard from school leaders participating in the Opportunity Gap cohort, including:

  • Northwest Collaborative (Network 1) Instructional Superintendent

Tamara Acevedo

  • Trevista at Horace Mann Principal Mandy Martinez and Assistant Principal Jessica Mullins
  • Colfax Elementary School Principal Sandra Berumen and Assistant Principal Jennifer Norris
  • Westerly Creek Elementary School Assistant Principal Melissa Cantu and Gifted and Talented Teacher/Senior Team Lead Marie Gruber

“We have worked intentionally as a collaborative across our network to focus on culturally-responsive professional learning, identifying the disparity area of focus in each school and creating a plan to support change, and to systematize ongoing progress monitoring,” said Acevedo.

“The success comes with the awareness that our staff has now. They really understand the importance and impact of how they show up for students every day in the classroom. it’s great to hear them talking about the success stories and opportunities they’re creating for their students to move back up,” said Martinez. “In the classroom, it’s easy to take it personally when you put so much work into lesson planning and really want your students to succeed. Our teachers now take a step back and think about what need isn’t being met for this student and how they can support them, instead of just thinking they aren’t listening and they are going to get detention. So it’s all about shifting that mindset.”

You can view the full board presentation here.