Board of Education Update – December 20, 2018 Board Meeting

Appreciation of Interim Superintendent Ron Cabrera 

The Denver Board of Education opened its December 20, 2018 meeting with praise and appreciation for Interim Superintendent Dr. Ron Cabrera, who stepped in when former Superintendent Tom Boasberg departed the district Oct. 19. Cabrera has spent nearly 40 years as a teacher, school leader, administrator and superintendent in districts throughout the metro area and DPS.

The board voted Monday to appoint Susana Cordova as DPS superintendent. Her anticipated start date is Jan. 7, making this Cabrera’s last meeting in the interim role.

“There is a person who, after lots of deliberation, came forward and stepped in as interim superintendent, which is not an easy decision,” said Board Chair Anne Rowe. “I can’t tell you how fortunate this district, our kids and communities are that Ron Cabrera said yes, and he did so with a smile on his face, as always. He is incredibly dedicated to public education and he stepped up in a space when we didn’t know what the timeframe would be. He was here to serve, and has done so incredibly well.”

Rowe acknowledged the extensive work Cabrera has done to guide the district through this transition, in particular noting his leadership in negotiations with the Denver Classroom Teachers Association.

“You had already stepped in to support the students, educators and families in DPS in countless ways. So, your eyes were open and you knew what you were getting into, and you still said yes,” said Board Member Happy Haynes. “You really are the epitome of the dedication of so many of our educators across this district. I am eternally grateful for the grace and patience you have exhibited.”

Cabrera said he was humbled. “It has been an honor and a privilege to work with all of you,” he said. He commended the board on its selection of Cordova, and said he has enjoyed getting to know the senior leadership team more. “In the short period of time I’ve gotten to know all of you, I have become friends with all of you and will continue to be your most enthusiastic fan.”

Denver Green School-Northfield Selected for Placement at Park Street Campus; Middle School to Open Fall 2019

The board also voted to place Denver Green School-Northfield at the Park Street Campus in North Stapleton, completing the 2018 Supplemental Call for New Quality Schools. The new middle school will participate in the upcoming SchoolChoice process, which will run from Jan. 15 to Feb. 15.

DPS convened a placement committee of community members and staff, which used a rubric grounded in the Facility Allocation Policy to select the best available option.

Board members commended the school’s strong middle school academic track record, experienced leaders, success in closing opportunity gaps for students and broad community outreach efforts, which were noted in the placement committee’s recommendation Monday.

Board Member Jennifer Bacon addressed community members who came to speak during the public comment session in support of other school applicants. “In competition, there are winners and losers — and that’s what is disappointing about this — because we are in a place where we have to chose one out of several quality options,” she said. She said that, looking forward, she would like to see the district do more regional and five-year regional planning as it thinks about opening, closing and improving schools. “We have to stop looking at schools as silos and look at how we better serve our communities.”

Board Member Lisa Flores concurred, adding that the district’s enrollment zones and regional planning has a great impact not just on middle schools, but also the elementary schools that feed into them.

The full recommendation presentation is available here.

2019 Call for New Quality Schools Released 

At the meeting, the DPS Portfolio Management team officially released the 2019 Call for New Quality Schools. Under state statute, DPS is required to accept applications for new charter schools every year, and DPS uses the Call for New Quality Schools (known as the Call) to extend the same opportunity to district-run schools and to make clear the rigorous, transparent quality review process to evaluate the quality of applications regardless of governance type.

Letters of intent to apply are due Feb. 8, with applications due on April 1. Applicants will have access to a number of resources and supports throughout the Call process, including online prerecorded screencasts and webinars, and in-person workshops and office hours.

DPS’ top Denver Plan 2020 goal is to have at least 80% of DPS students attending a high-performing school by 2020. To make this goal a reality, DPS is committed to strengthening our existing schools and welcoming new, quality schools into the district. The complete Call document, application resources and more information about the process are available here.

Watch this video below to learn more about the Call.

Board Approves Review Cycles for Three Schools Under School Performance Compact; Additional School Reviews in January 

The board voted to approve staff recommendations for Compass Academy,

Lake Middle School and Stedman Elementary, which were under consideration for the School Performance Compact (SPC) this year:

Each school shared a written improvement plan, and the Portfolio Management Team provided individual data dashboards including academic, operational and school culture data, all available here. Portfolio also convened an evaluation committee that included internal and external experts and at least one community member from a school’s region to inform the recommendations.

Board Member Angela Cobian thanked community members who came out to speak in support of their schools tonight: “It was so clear that the community and educators are so passionate about supporting our students and their success. Thank you.”

Additional school reviews in January

A second set of schools — which experienced a “precipitous drop” in their SPF ratings, from either yellow or green in 2017 to red in 2018 — received more time to prepare improvement plans:

  • Collegiate Preparatory Academy
  • DSST: Cole Middle School
  • Girls Athletic Leadership High School
  • John F. Kennedy High School
  • McGlone Academy
  • STRIVE Prep – Excel
  • West Leadership Academy

In January, the board will hear school presentations, review the body of evidence and staff recommendations, and vote on a slightly different set of options to dramatically improve the learning environment in these schools:

  • Two-year performance review cycle
  • Two-year performance review cycle with one-year monitoring
  • One-year performance review cycle

Learn more about the SPC here.

Charter School Contracts Renewed 

The board also approved the renewal of contracts for the following charter schools:

Staff made the renewal recommendations at the board’s Nov. 12 meeting. The full presentation, including an overview of the process and decision-making framework, is available here.