Statement on the Cost of Housing, Impact on Educators
At the September 18, 2017 Work Session the Board of Education discussed a values statement on the cost of housing in Denver and its impact on our educators. In a proposed resolution, the board declared that increases in rental housing and home prices are outpacing income growth in the Denver metro area, impacting the district’s ability to compete for the most highly-qualified teachers. While affirming that the district’s top priority use for district property is for schools, the board resolved that DPS will actively explore opportunities to positively impact availability of more affordable housing for district educators, including potential use of our own real estate assets for future rental housing for district educators.
Board Member Lisa Flores, citing conversations with DPS families on their front porches, noted rising housing costs are impacting them as well.
“We want to increase access to affordable housing for our DPS community, starting with educators,” she said at the board’s monthly work session, “but the need clearly extends for the larger community as well.”
Flores is expected to introduce the proposed resolution for a vote at the Sept. 28 board meeting. (Note: This month’s formal board meeting, which typically follows the monthly work session in the same week, is delayed one week for the celebration of Rosh Hashana.)
African-American Equity Task Force Work Moves Forward
The board received an update from the African-American Equity Task Force on the implementation of its plan. The task force was formed to address the factors contributing to the opportunity gap as outlined in the Dr. Sharon Bailey Report.
Led by Allen Smith, chief of the Culture, Equity and Leadership Team (CELT), the task force was made up of 100 parents, educators and community leaders with a mission to improve the experiences of African-American students, employees and families in DPS. After eight months of study, the task force presented prioritized recommendations to the board in the spring, and tonight presented progress on its multi-year work plan, including community engagement and establishment of an oversight committee.
The task force’s primary overarching recommendation for a formal structure to ensure effective execution of the work plan is underway with the establishment of an Equity team. The district has also developed a partnership with Generation Ready, established DPS Belong Employee Resource Groups and the Black Educator Superintendent Team (BEST), rolled out culturally responsive education training for all new educators and increased the number of African-American school leader and teacher hires.
You can read more about next steps here.
Strengthening Neighborhoods Work Continues
The Strengthening Neighborhoods initiative was created to address concerns around increasing housing prices and gentrification on our schools as Denver continues to grow. The committee will make recommendations on district policies around school boundaries, the SchoolChoice process, enrollment and academic programs, with an emphasis on improving socio-economic and racial integration in our schools. You can read a primer here.
The committee shared an update and solicited feedback from the board on its work going forward. The committee has divided its phase two work into three categories:
SchoolChoice Window Changing to February
DPS is proud to have the strongest choice system in the country, as well as some of the highest participation rates — and we’re always striving to make our system even better. At the work session, the board was informed that, in order to continue meeting our families’ needs, we have moved the 2018-19 school year choice window from January to February.
There were several reasons for moving the choice window, all stemming from our Shared Core Value of Equity. The new timing will allow us to better serve our families, with more time to research schools outside of busy times in the fall and around holiday breaks. A later deadline also means more families will have finalized their living arrangements for the following school year. With the later window, the timelines of some of our important resources and events are expected to shift to later in the fall. Educators and families can continue to find information and improved resources at schoolchoice.dpsk12.org. Read the full board presentation here.