Board of Education Update – June 11, 2018 Work Session

School Performance Compact for 2018-19 to Focus on Board Oversight of Improvement Plans

At the June 11 Work Session the DPS Board of Education discussed lessons learned related to the School Performance Compact, the board policy that sets expectations for the district related to school supports, interventions and community engagement. These lessons take on particular meaning as DPS begins planning for community-wide conversations to deepen its thinking about what student and school success looks like, what it means to be a “quality” school and how the district should design support and accountability structures with those factors in mind, both for schools and central teams.

DPS’ top priority is to ensure students have access to high-quality schools in every neighborhood. “The School Performance Compact is a promise to both internal and external stakeholders — our communities, our kids, our students’ families — for quality schools,” said District 5 Board Representative Lisa Flores.

Board members discussed aspects of the policy that call for strong supports for schools that are struggling. “I do believe there is a way to build with our schools to make decisions that improve the environment for the community and our students,” said Board President Anne Rowe.

The board determined that the current School Performance Compact policy guidelines will not be applied for the 2018-19 school year, based on its reflections on past learnings and given the community conversations that will soon launch. For 2018-19, the board will use the following guidelines:

  • Schools (both charter and district-run) that are rated red on the 2018 SPF will present to the board regarding their ongoing or planned improvement strategies and their planned or needed supports, along with a presentation of their improvement goals over time.
  • The district will provide a data dashboard for each red school (both charter and district-run) that includes culture and operational data, along with academic data.
  • The Portfolio Management Team will complete the regularly-scheduled renewal process for all charter schools whose contracts are up for renewal in 2018-19.

Acknowledging that sharp declines in the number of school-aged children in certain areas of our city will continue, the board expressed its intention to actualize recommendations from the Strengthening Neighborhoods Initiative and work to ensure schools are healthy enough from an enrollment perspective that they can offer students robust programming in a manner that promotes greater socioeconomic integration.

The board will form a sub-committee to flesh out the path forward in greater detail this summer. For more information, read the memo and presentation from Lisa Flores.

DPS Plans Actions Toward Becoming a Trauma-informed District

The board also heard an update from the Student Equity & Opportunity (SE&O) team on the policy and action steps needed to implement the Trauma-Informed School District resolution, introduced by former board member Rachele Espiritu and approved by the board in October 2017.

A panel of community practitioners shared their perspectives on the work ahead to improve DPS’ trauma-informed approach, including successes, obstacles and opportunities for increased collaboration. Panelists included:

  • Hunter Smith, second grade teacher with McGlone Elementary; DPS graduate
  • Lee McNeil, leader of Shorter Community AME Church’s social justice ministry; community leader and board member of Together Colorado; parent, grandparent and great grandparent of DPS students
  • Sonja O’Leary, pediatrician; medical director of Denver Health’s school-based health centers
  • Jennifer Koch, licensed clinical social worker; director of Denver Health’s school-based integrated behavioral health team

Lee McNeil said the need to address trauma was brought to her by congregants worried about what was happening in their public school classrooms. “We began to tackle the issue of children disrupting classes. When we did our research, we found that the school had no staff to address the needs of these kids that were hurting, that were in pain. Those kids were not learning and neither were the other ones in the classroom. We forged forward to address that need.”

“As you’re thinking trauma systems for students, be thinking at the same time about trauma-informed systems for staff, because if they’re not getting what they need, you’re putting the cart before the horse,” observed Jennifer Koch.

View the full presentation here.

Applicants Propose Northeast Denver Innovation Zone; Valdez Seeks to Join Luminary Learning Network

The board heard proposals for a new innovation zone (i-zone) to serve Northeast Denver and for Valdez Elementary to join the existing Luminary Learning Network (LLN), which was the first i-zone to form in DPS.

The Innovation Schools Act of 2008 defines an i-zone as “a group of schools of a school district that share common interests.” I-zones give innovation school leaders and teachers the opportunity to design and sustain a shared learning community specifically tailored to the needs of their students and the adults who serve them. Teachers, school leaders and community members must demonstrate support for the formation of a zone.

Staff Recommends Approval of Innovation Zone Proposals

DPS staff recommended that the board approve the Northeast Denver Innovation Zone plan brought forward by McAuliffe International, McAuliffe Manual, Northfield High School and Swigert International for a three-year term, becoming operational in August 2018.

Staff also recommended that the board approve the entry of Valdez into the LLN beginning in August 2018.

Read the full Innovation Zone Staff Recommendations here.