Board of Education Update – March 12, 2018 Work Session

Board, Student Board Discuss Gun Violence

At the March 12, 2018 Work Session the Board of Education (BOE) engaged with the Student Board of Education (SBOE) in thoughtful discussion about gun violence in our nation’s schools that resulted in a proposal for a joint BOE/SBOE resolution.

“There is a feeling in this country that we haven’t had in quite some time: student voice and leadership is very powerful,” said Board President Anne Rowe. “Students, we will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you. You’re leading now and will in the future.”

Students previously met to discuss their priorities, including:

  • Every student and teacher deserves to feel safe in and around schools
  • Students value clear communications and full information about safety and security practices and protocols in their schools
  • Strong school communities are critical for reducing threats and increasing safety, including increased mental health supports and a focus on equity when considering increased security measures (particularly for students of color and GLBTQ students)
  • Students want their voices heard by legislators in conversations regarding gun regulation

“I would like to see our joint resolution include measures on how to prevent gun violence, not just react to it,” said Jua Fletcher, a student at South High School and SBOE member. “If we adopt more reactionary policies, it becomes the norm, and gun violence should not be normalized in our society.”

The board pledged to continue working with the SBOE, and a joint resolution is in the works to be considered at an upcoming BOE meeting.

Best Practices of Schools Sharing Campuses 

As part of our Denver Plan goal to achieve Great Schools in Every Neighborhood, DPS works to ensure our facilities best serve students and that we match schools to our communities. Campus sharing is a placement solution that lets DPS serve more students with the facilities we already have available. In a campus-sharing arrangement, two or more schools are co-located within the same district facility. Shared campuses can include both district-run and charter schools, in order to equitably use district facilities for the greatest benefit of our students.

In the 2018-19 school year, DPS will have 29 shared campuses housing 73 schools. All operate under a shared campus agreement that outlines how the schools work together in the shared facility. The board heard an update about shared campuses, including district policies, types and locations, best practices and ongoing efforts to improve.

Superintendent Tom Boasberg noted that the Work Session was being held at a shared campus: the Emily Griffith campus includes both the Emily Griffith High School and technical College, as well as Downtown Denver Expeditionary School and central school support staff.

Voices from the Field

In addition, the board heard from a panel of 10 principals, teachers and students affiliated with a shared campus.

North campus STRIVE Prep Excel Principal Ben Lewis said, “School culture is about pride for your school and where you get your education, and that comes from the experiences of students, not what color your school colors are. That’s why we root on each other’s teams and celebrate each other’s achievements — because we are all North High School.”

Conservatory Green campus High Tech Elementary School Principal Amy Gile said it can be tough when you have older students saying inappropriate things in front of younger ones. But she said she talks with families about the benefits of the economies of scale achieved by a shared campus. “We would not have our gymnasium or the fields available to us if we weren’t able to share those costs with another school.”

Montbello campus DCIS Montbello High School and Middle School Principal Julie Murgel agreed that there are some really valuable ways to benefit from shared resources like transportation, as was her experience at the Cole campus, where just two schools shared the facility. She said it is more challenging on a campus with five schools to accommodate all of their various needs and schedules. “We joke about who is going to take the ‘brunch’ — the earliest of our five lunch hours,” she said. It’s all about collaboration and willingness to compromise for the greater good, she said.

West campus West Early College student Jeffrey Carrillo said that it’s nice for students to have the choice between different school models and class offerings so they can decide what works best for them. However, he said there is competition that has caused conflict between students. “To me, it’s about building a sense of community within our schools, and focusing on how we are the same and not different, and how we can help each other and work toward a common goal.”

You can learn more about shared campuses here, and read the full board report here.