After extensive public comment at the December 15th public meeting, the Board of Education voted to restart two schools and close another based on criteria it established in the School Performance Compact policy. The board adopted the policy last year and is implementing it for the first time this year.
The policy sets transparent criteria for determining when to restart a school — or replace a school in its existing faculty — and, in rare cases, close a school. The criteria considers school performance over three years, student academic growth in the most recent school year and the results of a School Quality review conducted by an independent third party to determine overall instructional quality and learning culture.
Based on these criteria, the Board of Education voted at Thursday’s meeting:
Board members also approved an amendment made by board member Rachele Espiritu that directs the district to provide transportation options to another DPS Montessori program for students at Gilpin, since that school will be closing at the end of this school year.
Several board members commented on the difficulty in casting their votes, using terms such as “gut-wrenching” and “painful.” But they also noted they must be willing to make tough decisions if they are to meet the ambitious goals of the Denver Plan 2020, which calls for 80% of all students to be enrolled in high-performing schools in less than five years.
“I believe in that vision,” said board member Espiritu, “and because I believe in that vision, I know we have hard decisions to make.”
They also noted that such votes come only after years of increased resources at struggling schools have not shown significant progress.
“The schools that are recommended for restart or closure are schools that have many years of students not being at grade level. And once a child gets behind, it is very, very difficult for them to catch up,” said board member Rosemary Rodriguez.
“These are the absolute toughest decisions,” she added, “But the larger agenda is to provide for every child in this district regardless of race, ethnicity, country of origin, socio-economic status or gender, and I remain committed to that agenda.”
Read the School Performance Compact resolution approved by the board, and the transportation amendment regarding Gilpin.
Specific school details and updates are being posted at face.dpsk12.org/school-improvement.To learn more about the School Performance Compact and how it helps DPS hold ourselves accountable to our Denver Plan 2020 goal of Great Schools in Every Neighborhood, visit greatschools.dpsk12.org/accountability.