Foundation laid, Denver Public Schools looks to build an equitable future for all scholars

Denver Public Schools Board of Education statement

Over the past year, the Denver Public Schools Board of Education has received extensive criticism. Rather than respond to this negativity, we have kept our heads down and focused on continuing to do the vital work of supporting all of our students and community members. We recognize that constructive criticism is part of our role as an elected Board of Directors. Unfortunately, much of the appreciable progress we have made for our students over the past year has been overshadowed in favor of coverage of our interpersonal dynamics. It is time we respond and set the record straight.
Student Success

DPS’s rising graduation rates have reached a historic high point. Recently the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), released data that showed the four-year, on-time graduation rate of Denver Public Schools increased by 2.5 percent, from 74.0 percent to 76.5 percent.

This outcome and others benefitting DPS students are not possible without the invaluable work of educators and all school building staff, central office staff, and the Superintendent in alignment with the values and vision that this board has articulated in their Ends statements.

In January, in partnership with DenCo Kids, the Board of Education passed a policy instituting universal dyslexia screening for our students. This change ensures we can identify students’ language-based learning differences early and provide them with effective interventions.

We were also encouraged to see that even as no DPS schools were added, eight schools were removed from the state accountability clock. These removals are a clear indicator that our school improvement process is working and academic success is improving.

Financial Stewardship

Financial sustainability is a crucial piece of a stable future for any public institution. DPS is not a private company whose goal is to be profitable. Instead, our goal is to spend every dollar we receive each year to ensure every student receives the best education possible.

While recent headlines have expressed concern that DPS has a “$9 million shortfall”, it is important to note that DPS operates on a $1.27 billion budget each year. This means that $9 million represents less than 1% of our total operating expenses. While we would always prefer to have a small amount of money left over after each year, when there is budget variance, we have a healthy reserve ($124.3 million) to cover it without impacting students, staff, or the community.

This board is committed to continuing to work with the Superintendent and staff to identify places to balance our budget. This includes a renewed exploration of a plan that could potentially consolidate schools to address declining enrollment. Conversations around this important topic will include the opportunity for significant community input.

DPS employees are now the most competitively waged in the state of Colorado after the Board ratified new agreements with the Denver Classroom Teachers Association and seven other bargaining units. These new contracts ensure that DPS scholars have access to the very best educators in Colorado.  Further, the unprecedented action by Superintendent Marrero as supported by the board to raise the minimum wage for our paraprofessionals and all district employees to $20/hour demonstrates that we are living our values.

Community Partnership

In a student initiated and led effort supported by district staff, the board worked collaboratively in order to pass a nationally emulated sustainability policy that will impact the district and the city for generations.

This past December, after hearing from many students and community members who expressed concerns regarding their safety due to gun violence, the Board of Education issued a proclamation urging the state legislature to enact an assault weapons ban. The Board also acted in February by adding Safety as a dedicated Ends Statement which is more than just words; it means that the board is putting its values into formal policy which the Superintendent will then make into tangible action.

Progress takes time. It is never as rapid as we would like, and the foundation laid by the Denver Public Schools Board since December of 2021 will provide the base on which we will collectively build an equitable future of sustained success for all DPS scholars.

Together, we can make this vision a reality.

In collaboration,

Xóchitl Gaytán – President

Auon’tai M. Anderson – Vice President

Michelle Quattlebaum – Secretary

Scott Esserman – Treasurer

Scott Baldermann – Director

Charmaine Lindsay – Director

Dr. Carrie A. Olson – Director