Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Twila Norman Honored with Memorial Proclamation
At the September 28, 2017 meeting the Board of Education honored former DPS assistant superintendent of elementary education Twila Norman with a proclamation tonight. Norman was the first African-American female to hold the position, and she worked more than 40 years for the district in various roles, including as a curriculum writer, teacher, assistant principal, principal, executive area director and assistant superintendent. Norman died in June 2017. The resolution proclaims the board’s “great respect and admiration” for Norman’s distinguished career and her contributions to her students, community, DPS, the city and state.
“Ms. Norman was a legend, and a great example of how everything we do here stands on the shoulders of those who came before us and built the road for us,” said Superintendent Tom Boasberg.
“She was a legend and heroine to many of us and we are honored to remember her here today,” said Board Member Rosemary Rodriguez, noting that Board Secretary Happy Haynes sent her regrets that she could not be in attendance for the remembrance.
Read the full proclamation here.
Statement on the Cost of Housing, Impact on Educators
After discussion at its last work session, the board made a values statement on the cost of housing in Denver and its impact on our educators at the September 28 meeting.
Board Member Lisa Flores introduced the resolution, saying, “We are naming the issue and we want to be part of the solution for increasing access to affordable housing for our DPS community, starting with educators. I’m proud to bring this forward today.”
In the 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. Read the full resolution here.
Support for City Bond Proposal
The board proclaimed its support for a City and County of Denver 2017 general obligation bond proposal stating it will “further the goals of DPS and serve the literacy, learning and whole child needs” of our students and families, citing the value of Denver’s public libraries, parks and recreation centers, and cultural facilities. Read the full resolution here.
Espiritu Suggests Trauma-Informed Approach
Board Member Rachele Espiritu proposed the district consider using a trauma-informed approach: “I’ve heard a lot about the different kinds of adverse experiences our staff and students have had inside and outside our classrooms, and how those impact their ability to teach and to learn, whether it’s bullying or racial tension, gang violence or violence in the community. … Children who experience physical, emotional or sexual abuse, bullying, witnessing violence or even experiencing a divorce makes them more likely to have chronic health issues,” she explained.
Espiritu said she is “proud to be part of a district that has made it a clear goal to support the whole child in addition to their academic progress. And I want to acknowledge the progress that has been made: many of our schools now have restorative justice practices, … we have taken action to reduce and eliminate suspension and expulsion, we are focused on getting school-based health clinics, … and led the nation in declaring ourselves a safe and welcoming school district. … Our educators value our students by visiting our students in their homes to meet their families and get to know them better as people.”
And she challenged the district to go even further. “I’d like to challenge us to do a bit more, to make sure we are doing this work in a really cohesive, consistent and proactive way with a trauma-informed approach,” she said. “There are things we can do to help change the direction for our students. I want us to be a district that addresses student and educator trauma in a proactive, preventative way that is culturally-sensitive and systematic in fashion. We can help students, educators and communities to more quickly heal and positively influence the outcome of our learners.”
Espiritu recommended several other school districts across the country who are taking a similar approach she believes may inform our work. Student Equity and Opportunity Director Eldridge Greer was in attendance and will work with the board in development of a proposal.
Strengthening Neighborhoods Work Continues
The Strengthening Neighborhoods task force presented its progress on recommendations for how DPS can work to address the impact of increasing housing prices and gentrification on our schools as Denver continues to grow. The committee has outlined two goals and created a community engagement plan for reviewing and gathering input 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.
Samsonite Facility Purchase Amended
The board amended the contract to purchase the Samsonite facility. The district has been leasing the facility since 2012 and, when the owner put it on the market, DPS moved to purchase the facility, which is a critical location in meeting the need for high school seats in the growing Far Northeast region. You can read the details here.
Proposed Board Policy Revisions
The board also reviewed proposed revisions to the following policies:
You can read the revised policies here.