Board of Education Update – March 15, 2018 Regular Meeting

Resolution to Support Colorado Superintendents’ School Funding Distribution Formula 

At the March 15, 2018 meeting the Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution to support a new school funding formula proposed by superintendents throughout the state in House Bill 18-1232.

The resolution states that Colorado’s current funding formula, passed in 1994, needs to be modernized to best serve the needs of our students, with a significant increase in investment in our K-12 schools. The growth and demographic changes that have occurred throughout the state are not reflected in the state’s current funding formula.

The new formula proposed by Colorado superintendents provides fair and equitable school funding based on students, including funding for full-day kindergarten and additional resources for special education, English language learners, gifted and talented students, and students living in poverty.

Board members noted the strength in superintendents throughout the state coming together to propose a united solution. They encouraged students, families and educators to actively support the bill by contacting state representatives and ensuring its referral to the ballot.

March for Our Lives Movement Acknowledged with Proclamation

The board also issued a proclamation to acknowledge the importance of the March for Our Lives movement and support for the event Saturday, March 24. Board Member Jennifer Bacon introduced and presented the proclamation. Board President Anne Rowe acknowledged and applauded students for leading the movement to end gun violence in schools throughout the nation, and reiterated the board’s support for our students’ leadership on this critical issue.

Far Northeast Education Commission Update, Meeting April 14

Board Member Jennifer Bacon presented a brief update on the progress of the Far Northeast Education Commission. DPS created the commission to better understand the community’s most pressing priorities and inform future district policymaking.

The commission was formed after a year of DPS-led engagement and feedback sessions with community members in the Montbello, Parkview and Green Valley Ranch neighborhoods. The commission, co-chaired by community members Patricia Slaughter, Erin Brown and Chris Martinez, will ultimately present its findings to the Board of Education.

“We know your voices must be included and we must engage our community differently. We know that information is power, and you should no longer be kept from it,” said Bacon. “We need to come together with an opportunity to strengthen our schools.”

A community meeting to share the findings of the commission has been rescheduled for April 14, to allow more time to ensure all of the community’s interests are represented. Several Far Northeast Denver school leaders expressed interest in leading this next phase of the commission’s work.

Superintendent Tom Boasberg thanked the large number of community members who have participated in the process over the past year and encouraged their continued engagement.

Update on Changes to Student Equity & Opportunity Restructure, Supports for Special Education

Student Equity & Opportunity Associate Chief Dr. Eldridge Greer provided the board with a brief update on changes the department is pursuing effective July 1.

“Thank you to our parents who are advocating very purposefully to ensure our students are prepared for college and career,” Greer said, addressing parents speaking at tonight’s meeting. “Our vision is to better support schools in removing barriers that impact student growth and achievement, particularly for students with disabilities. Unfortunately, some of the time, those barriers are created by us … and that’s why we believe a restructure is necessary.”

The reorganization will provide stronger, more streamlined services directly to schools — because we believe schools know how best to serve their students and should have the flexibility to do so. Schools and families will see some changes in the teams and partners responsible for specific supports, and some district-run schools will receive additional funding for school-based staff. Here’s what to expect in special education:

  • All schools will continue to have the same speech language pathology, vision, deaf and hard-of-hearing, and occupational and physical therapy services.
  • All schools will continue to have one special education point of contact in the form of Special Education Instructional Specialists. This role will focus on improved specialized instruction and intervention, compliance for highly complex situations, and an increased emphasis on training teachers to build in-school capacity.
    • Special Education Instructional Specialists will no longer provide behavioral support; instead, these services will be provided by the Whole Child team. This change helps to create role clarity and enables instructional specialists to focus on best first instruction and interventions for students with disabilities.
  • All schools will continue to utilize the expertise and services of our bilingual Special Education Assessment Services (SEAS) professionals in providing special education assessment for Spanish-speaking families and consultation to school staff.

In addition, new for the 2018-19 school year, district-run elementary schools with Affective Needs programs have received an additional $50,000 to provide additional supports, such as classroom assistants or mental health services. Beginning in the 2019-20 school year, DPS will open a Therapeutic Day School to serve students with intensive mental health needs and emotional disabilities.