Oct. 13, 2020
Supporting Our Schools
Dear Central Office Team Members, 

As we continue to navigate through a year unlike any other, we know we have all been pushed personally and professionally in new directions we never could have anticipated. We hope you and your families are doing well as we face these challenges. Throughout the past seven months, we in the Senior Leadership Team have been so impressed by the dedication, creativity and resourcefulness we’ve seen from our Central Office teammates and others throughout DPS, as we’ve all had to adjust and flex to be there for our kids and families. We’re especially grateful to Central Team members who have responded to our recent call to provide in-person support at our school buildings.

Next week, we are excited to welcome back even more kids to in-person learning -- and we wouldn’t be here without the critical work and dedication of you and all of those in our central office. Thank you!

As a Students First and Equity-driven organization, it’s critical that we marshal all of our resources and direct them to where we believe they will have the greatest impact on our students. We must remove the barriers that hinder access to the quality education each of our students deserve.

Like all other area districts, DPS is facing a critical staffing shortage in our schools that are open for in-person learning and supports. This shortage is a result of asking staff to stay home when they have any symptoms of illness and because we have supported our team members in seeking accommodations and remote work options. Our students have already lost so much learning and support time in our schools. It’s essential we do everything we can to safely keep our buildings and classrooms open to serve students and families. As a result, our superintendent has asked us all to step up to ensure that our students have the opportunity to continue learning in person as much as possible. 

We are assigning all central team members who don’t have an accommodation for remote work or who are designated as a critical operations role that cannot be diverted to be available to support schools one day per week to meet their staffing needs. We will be assigning both certified teachers and non-certified support staff for office and supervisory responsibilities, such as during lunch and recess. We are also asking those who have an approved remote work accommodation to be available to support schools virtually one day per week. 

We understand that this is a difficult adjustment to make; we understand that some of our support functions may slow down as a result. However, we think it’s necessary in order to meet our responsibilities to our students and families and to ensure we’re living our DPS Shared Core Values together as a district family.

In the coming days, we will share more information with our Central Office teams about what this means for you. In general, team members are asked to be available to support one school, one day a week, with supports including serving as a guest teacher substitutes, as substitute paraprofessionals for ECE and special education, or for office or general supervisory support. Schools will request these supports from the Central Office only after other in-building supports are not available. We aim to provide as much predictability and sustainability as possible, and are asking each Central Office team member to share preferences that will work for them. 

To capture your preferences on schools and support schedules, please fill out this survey by 8 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14. All members of the Central Office are asked to complete the survey regardless of accommodation status or a previous approval to work remotely, as all staff will be asked to be available to support students directly -- whether in-person or remote.
With this common commitment and direction in mind, we are pausing the Central Office return plans for the time being so as to prioritize supports for schools. Central Office buildings will be open for those who need to or want to work in person, with their supervisor’s permission. This will ensure that we meet the physical-distancing and overall health requirements; however, team members who do not need to report to their school site can choose to continue working remotely.

As team members report to school sites, we will continue closely following the health standards and protocols in place. This includes following the The DPS 5 and adhering to physical distancing and safe group sizes. 

All of us on the Senior Leadership Team fully support these efforts in demonstrating Team DPS’ commitment to having Equity be our guiding value and you will see us in schools as well. We will work with our team members to adjust current projects and timelines to ensure you are able to prioritize your time in schools. 

We know many of you have questions or concerns. We are here together as Team DPS. Please join us Wednesday from 10-11 a.m. for a Central Office Team Town Hall, when we’ll share more information. (Details for joining the virtual Town Hall will be sent later today.) You will have the opportunity to ask questions and hear from us on our commitment to our students, teachers and leaders. In the interim, please work with your department leadership to address any specific questions you have for your individual circumstance, knowing that we will continue to share additional information as it's available.

Please know how much we value you and the important work you do in your role in supporting DPS and our mission. Our kids need us, now more than ever, and we need to do all we can to support them.

Again, we want to sincerely thank you for your support and flexibility as we get through this crisis together. 

Sincerely,

Susana Cordova, Superintendent
Dwight Jones, Senior Deputy Superintendent, Equity
Tamara Acevedo, Deputy Superintendent of Academics
Mark Ferrandino, Deputy Superintendent of Operations
Michael Ramirez, Deputy Superintendent of Schools
Michelle Berge, General Counsel
Leslie Juniel, Executive Director of Culture, Equity and Leadership Team
Jennifer Holladay, Associate Chief of Portfolio Management
Amy Keltner, Chief Impact Officer
Deborah Staten, Chief of Staff
Michael Vaughn, Chief Communications Officer
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