Board Update: Support for Bond/Mill and Innovation

Board Unanimously Approves Bond/Mill Ballot Proposal

Tonight, the Denver Board of Education unanimously approved a bond and mill levy funding request be placed on the ballot in November. The measures, created by a 75-member community committee, call for $572 million in bond funding to build and improve schools and $56.6 million in operating dollars to support proven initiatives, such as early literacy, to help Denver students succeed.

Tonight’s vote ensures that the measure will go before voters. If the bond is approved, it would not likely require a tax-rate increase based on the district’s current assessed value and tax collection rate. The mill levy override would be less than $10 a month in property tax increases for the median Denver home. The median home price in Denver is $329,000.

“We have done remarkable work with the amount of funding we have,” said Board Treasurer Mike Johnson, citing student achievements such as the increase in graduation rates and the record Class of 2016. But he also noted Colorado ranks 42nd in the nation in K-12 funding.

“I hope all of you who are listening and watching will seriously consider the needs of this district, the hard work we’ve been doing and the challenges we have” he said during the televised board meeting, “and support us with the funding we really need to do our job.”

Board President Anne Rowe thanked the community members who spent more than 2,000 hours over six months to identify students’ needs and create a bond and mill package that addresses them. She noted several components in the proposal rely on school leaders and their communities to decide exactly how funds are spent.

“This proposal represents an alignment of our strategic plan, the work we are implementing and now the resources to support that work,” she said. “I appreciate the creativity to bring as many funds as we can to school leaders to enable them to make decisions that best support their community.”

If approved by voters, all Denver Public Schools will benefit from increased support for classroom programs as well as improved classroom learning environments, such as technology upgrades.

Among the specifics in the proposals:

  • Early Literacy: $6.8 million investment would target training to all teachers in grades ECE-3 and bolster interventions for struggling readers, ensuring students are reading on grade level by grade 3. Students who reach this benchmark are four times more likely to graduate than those who don’t.
  • College and Career Readiness: $8.1 million investment in real-world college and career opportunities, such as DPS CareerConnect and dual enrollment in college classes. DPS CareerConnect students are 30 percent more likely to graduate than their peers while dual-enrollment students are more likely to enroll in college after graduation.
  • Classroom Technology: $6.6 million investment to provide increased student access to computers, digital coaching and digital curricula. This investment is in conjunction with a bond proposal to increase the percentage of students in a school with one device per student from 22 percent to 63 percent.
  • Focused Investments in Secondary Schools: $42.6 million investment allocated to 13 “baby boomer”-era secondary facilities that have not received significant upgrades in recent decades, including Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington high schools.
  • New Schools to Meet Growing Demands: $142 million investment for new and expanded campuses in the rapidly growing Northeast and Far Northeast as well as expanding capacity for proven programs across the district.

Read the resolution, and see details of the citizens’ committee proposals in this June 2 board presentation. Visit the district website at to learn more about the proposed impact of the ballot measures by school.

Seven Schools’ Innovation Plans Approved

The board tonight approved seven schools’ innovation plans. Established under the Innovation Schools Act of 2008, innovation schools are managed by DPS but waive certain requirements of state education laws, collective bargaining agreements and/or district policies. Innovation plans detail which requirements a school would like to waive, with support from a majority of their school staff. The approved plans, available here, include:

Board Member Happy Haynes complimented those involved in the development of the innovation plans, saying, “It’s clear that you all have learned from other schools and other plans. The quality of these plans continue to get better and better, and they reflect a lot of work and community involvement.”

Learn more about innovation schools in DPS.