Board of Education Update – March 7, 2019 Focus on Achievement

Superintendent Cordova Presents Early Feedback from Entry Plan Focus Groups; Discusses Restructure of Central Office

At the March 7, 2019 Focus on Achievement Session, Superintendent Susana Cordova shared with the Denver Board of Education initial feedback she has gathered from several focus groups, related to her recently released entry plan and restructuring of the DPS central office.

To date, Cordova has conducted four focus groups with district-run and charter school leaders, teachers and teacher leaders.

Reflecting on the top characteristics of what makes a quality school, participants shared common themes that are central to the district’s ongoing work — such as strong, positive school cultures, belief that all students can learn and grow, and providing engaging and academically rigorous instruction for all students. “We’re always looking at ways to reinforce the structures that enable these elements to be in place,” said Cordova.

She also noted that many participants, particularly teachers, said that the best schools have ways for teachers to grow, to lead and to make their voices heard.

“This work is ongoing,” said Board Member Anne Rowe. “Fundamentally, it’s about supporting the adults who are doing the important work of supporting our kids.”

Cordova shared that she will continue the outreach and engagement to both internal and external stakeholder groups. “We’re currently working on scheduling time with elected leaders, with more teachers, school leaders and staff members, both centrally and in our schools. We’ll have opportunities for students, families and community partners to get engaged and give feedback,” she noted. The superintendent will also be holding regional town halls, visiting schools and gathering feedback at upcoming Superintendent-Parent Forums.

Board members asked questions and provided feedback to the superintendent about her entry plan and the restructuring of central teams. Both Cordova and Board Member Jennifer Bacon noted that the entry plan is not a strategic plan. It is, however, an important way to gather community feedback that can inform the development of a new strategic plan for DPS going forward.

View the full presentation here.

Board Approves Superintendent Cordova’s Contract 

The board also unanimously approved a three and a half year contract for Superintendent Susana Cordova.

As part of their comprehensive review process, General Counsel Michelle Berge and the members of the board reviewed the contracts for other Colorado districts as well as superintendent contracts nationwide. The board felt that it was important to assure that our superintendent’s salary was competitive with her Colorado peers and consistent with the level of complexity and challenge associated with leading the largest school district in Colorado.

In response to questions from community members about how the contract would address issues of accountability, term length and other concerns, Board Member Happy Haynes explained that the contract preserves the board’s right to decide those conditions. “The contract clearly places with the board of education absolute control over issues around termination, expectations, setting the direction for this district; those terms are very clear,” she said.

Noting the significance of Cordova officially accepting the role as a Latina leader, Board Member Angela Cobián said, “There are lots of students in our district who can aspire to and realize that. I think it’s important to underscore the importance of this moment.”