Board of Education Update – May 9, 2019 Work Session

Teacher Growth and Performance Update with Voices from the Field

The Denver Board of Education heard an update from Chief Human Resources Officer Debbie Hearty on teacher growth and performance through LEAP (Leading Effective Academic Practice). The conversation focused on improvements made to the system and where there are continued opportunities, including a mid-year progress check to build transparency in the process.

The board was introduced to a new initiative meant to increase teacher voice and engagement in the development and continuous improvement of LEAP, called the LEAP Collaborative Committee (LCC). Made up of 20 educators in total — 10 of whom were named by DCTA — LCC will provide a way to enable joint decision-making and build trust into the system.

“The LCC is charting a pretty uncharted path. There is not a structure like this in other districts,” said Ms. Hearty.

Voices From the Field

The board had the opportunity to hear from those closest to the work: members of the LCC. The following educators spoke before the board:

  • Kris Bethscheider, Teacher at West Early College
  • Andrew Crossley, Teacher at DCIS-Baker
  • Sean Precious, Instructional Superintendent
  • Sandra Just, Principal at Contemporary Leadership Academy

“I would like to see more collaboration between the board and LCC,” said Kris Bethscheider, a teacher at West Early College. “I think we can make some recommendations you can support us in, and would like to hear about where you would like us to make some changes.”

“What we know works in education is building a relationship,” said Andrew Crossley, a teacher at DCIS-Baker.

To add to that idea, Bethscheider said: “I’d start with a conversation to create a relationship with my teachers and ask, ‘what are your classroom goals?’ and let them know we’ll be in to chat more. To me, that’s the coaching piece. We’re all really trying to do what’s better, and I think developing those relationships is going to create a better coaching system.”

“I think we have this opportunity to really look at things that are problematic,” said Sandra Just, principal at Contemporary Leadership Academy. “From a leader’s perspective, I know I have to be really thoughtful with how I am supporting my coaches, by looking at how we are staying calibrated and how our support is differentiated.”

The full presentation is available here.

Operations Team Presents 2019-20 Fiscal Year Proposed Budget

Erik Johnson, DPS Chief Financial Officer, and Mark Ferrandino, Deputy Superintendent of Operations, presented a proposal for the 2019-20 fiscal year budget, including an overview of the state and local school funding environment and a breakdown of the budget changes due to the reorganization of the central office.

The proposed budget for FY 19-20 includes $20 million in total reductions. For new investments, the finance team proposed:

  • A significant increase in teacher compensation paid for by new funds and reductions in central office, including an average increase of 13%, which is higher than the anticipated 11.5% that was discussed during ProComp negotiations.
  • Adding $1.4 million of new money for the Special Education Task Force. This would be in addition to the redirection of $700,000 of existing funds for a total of $2.3 million into the funding for students identified with special needs.
  • Additional financial supports for African-American, Latinx and LGBTQ students, offset by reductions in other areas.
  • A commitment of around $300,000 to support a new property tax rebate program, in a 50/50 partnership with the city. It will support low-income families who own homes and have kids.
  • A commitment to get to a $15 minimum wage in three years by adding $3.5 million into low-wage worker compensation.

“When we think about changes across the board, the three words I think of are: alignment, simplification and coherence,” said Mr. Johnson.

This consolidated budget plan is aligned with Superintendent Susana Cordova’s approach for the district around instructional excellence and focus, with more attention on programs that support equitable outcomes for students. “Kudos to our superintendent for creating this vision and for everyone working with her,” added Anne Rowe, BOE President.

The board will vote whether to adopt the proposed budget at an upcoming meeting.

District Accountability Committee Provides Recommendations on 2019-20 School Year Budget

The role of the budget subcommittee under the District Accountability Committee, or DAC, is to seek engagement from the community to provide priority recommendations in the spending of district money. DAC budget subcommittee chair Travis Doris shared recommendations, which range from analyzing transportation contracted services, the development of strategies to best access funds, the review of funding sources which schools receive outside of district funding and more.

“The three overarching themes of this year’s budget subcommittee are: the ongoing impact of the dual legislative amendments of Gallagher and TABOR, the concern over central office administrative spending and the persistent concern about teachers ability to afford to live within the district,” said Mr. Doris.

The proposed 2019-20 FY budget presentation is available here. For more information about the role of DAC, visit the website here.