Thursday, March 9, 2017
Cheltenham Elementary teachers Holly Charles, Laura Luscinski and Elisabeth Watkins met with their third- and fourth-grade students during this week's Parent Teacher Home Visit Week. 
Top 5: Teachers Who Went the Extra Mile for You
This week is Parent Teacher Home Visit Week, and our teachers are out and about around Denver visiting students and their families to get to know them outside of the classroom. In honor of our teachers going above and beyond, we asked you to reflect on an educator who made a difference for you in school. These replies help us all remember the lasting impact we can have on our kids every day!

A family from North High School visits with teacher Justo Yanez and Assistant Principal German Echevarria.
1. "I can't remember a time when I didn't know how to read. Yet, when I was in kindergarten, I hated reading and never paid attention so I was put in the remedial reading group. At the mid-year conference, my reading teacher had an idea and gave to me a copy of Walter Farley's 'The Black Stallion' (a grade 4-6 level book) instead of 'Dick and Jane Play Ball.'  By the time I ended second grade, I had read all 15 in the series. She took the time to actively listen when I was saying the grade-level books were 'stupid and boring'; that it wasn't a defense mechanism to get out of work or to cover up a reading disability. So, instead of continuing to back up, she realized that instead I needed to jump forward. I am an avid reader to this day and enjoy nothing more than a good book thanks to her." -- Myra Coyle, Escalante-Biggs Academy (our prize giveaway winner!)
2. "As a youth in Denver, I was lucky to be one of the first students to attend Denver School of the Arts. My freshman year was very hard both in school and at home, and I almost dropped out after missing a lot of school. At the start of my sophomore year, we got a new vocal music teacher at DSA named Scott Shively. Scott was a huge role model for me and he changed the way I thought about school and teachers. He got me interested in being in music class again, and inspired me to become a leader amongst my peers. I even helped direct my senior year pops show because he believed in me. That experience is what got me interested in teaching kids. If it weren't for Scott, I don't know if I would be a teacher today. It's nice knowing he's still educating kids in vocal music at DSA!" -- Brendan Doyle, Cory Elementary
3. " As a DPS alum I attended Montbello High School -- Go Warriors! I was on the gymnastics team and, because it wasn't a big-name sport, we didn't get a lot of funding. I remember my coach, Charles Walters, would take us to our bigger meets in his own vehicle as we couldn't get a bus for six of us. He also had team-building activities at his house, brought us snacks and water for practice in the summer and even spoke at my wedding! I was lucky to work with Mr. Walters through elementary school (where I helped him coach Amesse Gymnastics) and high school. He was such an asset to the Montbello community!" -- Janette Barela, Maxwell Elementary
Nominate Our Values Role Models for the Leadership Lamp Awards
Dorian Bennett of Denver Discovery School receiving the Leadership Lamp Award at the 2016 Night of Honor.
The Leadership Lamp is the most distinguished award a teammate can receive, and we are currently seeking nominations. This extraordinary honor is reserved for four individuals each year who truly go above and beyond, making a difference and actively living all of our Shared Core Values. A person in any role can be honored with the Leadership Lamp award -- from teachers to school nurses to bus drivers to finance partners to principals to security officers -- so if you know someone setting a great example for all of Team DPS, nominate them today! See examples of past Leadership Lamp honorees to learn more. Nominations are due Friday, March 24. Questions? Email

Spread the word : Share the Night of Honor nomination opportunities with your team with this Night of Honor nomination flier.
Decisions, Decisions: Choosing Between a Deductible HMO or CDHP
DPS is committed to offering our team members choices for their medical care, and employees will now have the option of selecting from Consumer-Driven Health Plans (CDHP) and Deductible HMO (DHMO) medical plans through both Kaiser or Denver Health Medical Plan during this year's Open Enrollment, happening April 24-May 12. 

To find the best fit for you and your family, consider these differences between DHMOs and CDHPs: 
  • Monthly Premiums: On average, DHMOs have higher monthly premiums and CDHPs have lower monthly premiums.  
  • Co-Pays: DHMOs have a preset copay for routine office visits and most prescriptions. CDHPs do not have copays; you pay out of pocket until your deductible is met. Preventive care visits are covered at little to no cost to you for both types of plans.
  • Health Savings Account (HSA): You only have the option of contributing to an HSA with a CDHP.
For more information, watch these Kaiser videos on DHMOs and CDHPs . Or visit .
Wondering About the State of PERA? 
There have been some recent questions about the  Public Employees' Retirement Association (PERA) and its sustainability long term. Below is more information to answer these concerns.

The district works closely with the Public Employees' Retirement Association and our legislative partners to monitor the sustainability of PERA. The DPS division of PERA is the highest-funded division at roughly 80%, based on 2015 audited results (2016 audited results will be released in June). The DPS division is projected to be fully funded within 36 years. In addition, even if returns come in lower than the assumed 7.25% rate, the fund is not expected to run out of money. While it is important to become fully funded as quickly as possible, there is a trade-off between the needs of the classroom today versus long-term liability.

Some of the concerns you may hear are likely related to other divisions of PERA or by people who want to see changes to the important defined benefit plans. In order to address this, PERA has started to work with current and retired PERA members to look at the options to determine what changes may be needed. We are committed to engaging in these conversations and working to ensure the continued sustainability of the DPS PERA division.

Note: PERA provides retirement and other benefits to the employees of more than 500 government agencies and public entities in the state of Colorado. Members of PERA include employees of the Colorado state government, public school teachers in the state, many university and college employees, judges, many employees of cities and towns, state troopers and the employees of many other public entities.
PERA is a substitute for social security for most of these public employees. Benefits are pre-funded, which means while a member is working, he or she is required to contribute a fixed percentage of their salary to the retirement trust funds. This percentage is 8% for most members. Employers also contribute a percentage of pay to the trust fund. The trust funds are then invested by PERA under the direction of the PERA Board of Trustees.

Please contact Chief Financial Officer Mark Ferrandino if you have further questions.
New Name for Link to Resources: Infor HR/Finance Systems
Trying to find Employee Self-Service? Can't remember how to get to GHR (now known as Infor HR)? Before now, the link to the landing page was called a lot of things on our various DPS digital platforms. We needed to fix that. So now, all of these links have been updated under the name Infor HR/Finance Systems. Find the renamed link on The Commons, and Teacher, Principal and Secretary portals under this new name. Ah, simplicity.
The name of the link has changed but it will still take you to these great resources (which have also recently been updated -- so be sure to check them out!):
  • Infor Lawson -- Employee Self-Service (for employee pay, benefits, W2, 1095s), Time and Attendance, and Finance.
  • Infor HR (formerly known as GHR Talent Management) for Employee Space, Manager Space and internal job board.
  • Learning Space (formerly known as Professional Learning Space) for training and learning management for non-temporary, non-teaching positions.
Discount Alert: DPS Foundation 25th Anniversary of the Achieve Gala
Team DPS, you are invited to join the DPS Foundation's 25th anniversary of investing in students and schools! This year's Achieve Gala will take place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 27, at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center. Don't miss this evening of fun and inspiration where we celebrate our students' many successes. Guests will hear from keynote speakers and a student, and watch several DPS schools perform in a musical ensemble like never before. Tickets are discounted for DPS employees. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
Rating Scale Changes for LIFT/EPMP and Core Competencies Evaluation
Attention central school-support team members: Based on feedback from leaders, the overall rating scales for the LIFT/EPMP and Core Competencies Evaluation performance frameworks have been revised. The changes to the rating scales add clarity to all ratings and better reflect the positive contributions and solid performance of employees whose performance Meets Expectations (3).

The new rating scales take effect immediately and will be used for year-end ratings. Please review the full rating scale for LIFT/EPMP and Core Competencies Evaluation, and talk with your leader if you have any questions. Not sure which performance framework applies to you? Review the Growth & Performance at a Glance document for more information.
Living Our DPS Honoree:
Audrey Ross-McCall
Special Education Support Partner,
Student Equity and Opportunity
"Audrey Ross-McCall of Student Equity and Opportunity goes beyond the call of duty to support our schools and families in Network 4, and she does it with Integrity. She works diligently with teams to support challenging cases and is passionate to share best practices, equity opportunities and ECEA/NCLB compliance among our schools. Audrey collaborates with our school teams using problem-solving protocols, facilitating trainings and side-by-side coaching. Many times she has used her own funds to provide resources and materials for teachers and students. Audrey begins each day early, before the majority of us have reached our buildings and often she is one of the last to leave. Everything she does comes from her heart and her commitment to encourage and support our school teams to ensure Every Child Succeeds. It is a privilege and honor to work with Mrs. Ross-McCall, and we are so thankful for her Integrity, dedication, compassion and Equity in serving our students and families."

  -- Veronica Lindau-Winkler, Special Education Support Partner

Nominate one of your colleagues to be featured as a Living Our DPS honoree.
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