Thursday, March 2, 2017
Students sharing a love of reading at Eagleton Elementary.
Top 5: Favorite Dr. Seuss Character
Today is Read Across America Day, and we hope all members of Team DPS are sharing a good book with the students in their lives. This national celebration is designed to foster a love of reading among children and teens, and is held annually to honor Dr. Seuss on his birthday. In tribute to the great wizard of words, here's this week's Top 5 of your favorite Dr. Seuss characters. Congratulations to our giveaway winner Madeline Baird of Columbian Elementary!

1. "Horton is my favorite Dr. Seuss character! I love that elephant and the dedication he shows to protecting both the egg and the Whos in the two books about him. We always need more people standing up for those unable to do so for themselves!" -- Madeline Baird, Columbian Elementary

2. "I would have to go with the worm in the story ' The Big Brag.' He exemplifies 'quit bickering about who is better than whom' and get on with it -- which I translate to 'a little less talk and a lot more action.' Let's get it done together!" -- Lisa Sacker, Postsecondary Readiness

3.
"I am a current ELA-Spanish resource teacher for Hamilton Middle School. Working with newcomers has been a great experience where I have had the chance to share Dr. Seuss books. ... My super favorite character is The Grinch. His heart grows and grows as he allows people and love in his life!" -- Johanna Melo, Hamilton Middle School
 
4. "My favorite is from 'One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish': 'Who is this pet? Say! He is wet. You never yet met a pet, I bet, as wet as they let this wet pet get.' I read to my three boys every night, and we had a stack of Dr. Seuss, our favorites. Boys Ian, Ben and Eli are now 35, 30 and 27. Ian is reading Dr. Seuss to his son Holden now." -- Donna Pierce, DoTS

5.
"My favorite character is Horton. He perseveres, he's got grit and he sticks up for the little guy. 'A person's a person, no matter how small.'" -- Rhonda Urbach, Student Equity and Opportunity & East High School 
Top 5 Callout: Teachers Who Went the Extra Mile for You
March 4 kicks off Parent Teacher Home Visit Week, when teachers are encouraged to visit their students' families outside of the classroom to build stronger relationships with parents and get to know the kids even more. With so many teachers getting ready to support our students, we want to hear about a time one of your teachers went above and beyond to help you as a student. Think back to your time in school, then share your story and be entered for a chance to win a prize and be featured in next week's Top 5.
Planning for Potential March 8 Action, Absences
 
Dear Team DPS,
 
We know a number of DPS team members, including teachers, have expressed interest in participating in a protest being organized for March 8, which is International Women's Day. The protest is being called the International Women's Strike or A Day Without a Woman, and organizers cite it as a one-day demonstration of economic solidarity. Among the suggested actions are taking a day off work.
 
We recognize the invaluable contributions that our female employees make to DPS students and the Denver community, and we have no doubt that Denver Public Schools could not function without the thousands of female employees who work tirelessly every day to help achieve our vision, Every Child Succeeds.
 
With women representing 73% of the district's teachers and 86% of the district's school-support staff, the disruption to student learning and student safety if even a small percentage of our employees took the day off would be enormous. 
 
Read the full letter, including guidance on attendance on March 8, from Superintendent Tom Boasberg and Deputy Superintendent Susana Cordova.
Access The Commons from Anywhere, Anytime
DPS' intranet -- The Commons -- is now available to Team DPS outside of the DPS network, including from home, on tablets and mobile devices. All team members, including those at charter schools, can now access DPS news, events, portals, and employee and department information -- all in one central place. Just type thecommons.dpsk12.org into any internet browser.

With this update, the information on The Commons has stayed the same. However, some links are password-protected and require a secure log on to access district-only information. If you receive a prompt to log on, simply input your DPS username and password, and you will be able to view the information on Google. Check out our FAQ section to learn more about how we're protecting district-only information on the intranet. Questions? Email  thecommons@dpsk12.org.
How Do You Support the Whole Child and Whole Adult?
Hear DPS students and educators share what support for the whole child and whole adult means to them, participate in breakout sessions on becoming a trauma-sensitive school, and learn about local wellness resources at the upcoming DPS ED TalkSupport for the Whole Child and Whole Adult. This DPS Ed Talk -- a series created to bring together educators and community members to discuss issues affecting DPS schools and to help create an open environment to learn from each other -- will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 9, at Manual High School, 1700 E. 28th Ave.  RSVP for the event online.  
Save the Dates!
Benefits Open Enrollment Opportunities Coming Soon
It's that time of year again! Open Enrollment -- the time when members of Team DPS elect benefits for the following year -- will take place April 24 through May 12. To help you make the best decision for you and your family, consider attending one of the Open Enrollment events:  
Stay tuned to thecommons.dpsk12.org/openenrollment for more information and resources available to help you make the best choice in your medical care.   
What is DPS Doing to Control the Cost of Benefits?
Listening to Team DPS In DPS, we use the Benefits Board, consisting of representatives from all bargaining units and the district, to determine how to manage these costs while providing the best options for our employees. To date, the Benefits Board has taken a number of steps to decrease insurance costs, such as:
  • Changing insurance carriers to get lower rates.
  • Boosting our wellness programs.
  • Moving to Consumer-Driven High Deductible or CDHP plans. 
But it's not enough . While most employees who elect major medical coverage for themselves pay nothing, employees who cover dependent children still pay too much. Even after the district added an additional subsidy to employees who cover dependent children, the cost of coverage is still too high. 
 
So the Benefits Board is taking steps to encourage higher participation in our health plans by changing our flexible benefit credit model. DPS is the only local district that allows employees who waive major medical coverage to cash out their full benefit credit allowance, significantly decreasing the number of plan participants. In general, the more participants in the health benefit plan, the greater leverage to decrease the cost of the plans. 
 
Most bargaining units voted to permit new employees hired after June 1 to access flexible benefits credits only if they participate in a DPS health care plan. This will result in members of these bargaining units paying $100 per month less to cover dependent children starting in July 2017. Unfortunately, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA), as well as the Amalgamated Transit Union and the Facility Managers Association, did not elect to make this change for 2017-18. 
 
Good News! More Benefit Plan Options
At the request of some employees, including the DCTA, the Benefits Board has voted to approve offering two deductible HMO plans, one from Kaiser and one from Denver Health Medical Plan, starting July 1. Please make sure to use the plan selector tool included in the on-line Open Enrollment program to determine if an HMO plan is right for you.
Get Your Green On at DPS Garden and Greenhouse Forum
Flex your green thumb from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday during the fifth-annual DPS Garden and Greenhouse Forum, held at the 
Denver Center for International Studies,  574 West 6th Ave .  All members of Team DPS, parents, students and community members are invited to this interactive and informative forum, which will including a morning breakout session followed by an afternoon Q and A. Connect your classroom with school gardens across the district, get seeds for schools, find resources and curriculum, and meet with local organizations like Denver Urban Gardens, The Kitchen Community and Denver Slow Food. Teachers can receive professional development credits for attendance. Bonus: lunch provided by Chipotle. Register here.
Share Your Feedback on Congress' Every Student Succeeds Act
In 2015, Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as a replacement to the former law known as No Child Left Behind. The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) has a draft of the Colorado state plan to implement ESSA, and members are seeking local input from school officials and community members. The plan, once final, will become effective beginning in the 2017-18 school year. The deadline for providing feedback to CDE is March 13. Read the full draft ESSA State Plan here and submit your feedback directly to CDE here. If you have questions, email ESSA@dpsk12.org.
Living Our DPS Honoree:
Robby Bridgford
Custodial Supervisor, Hamilton Middle School
Fun
 
" During summer time when all the kids are out of school, the facilities team still has to work in our schools to prepare them for the next school year. Over at Hamilton Middle School, there is no AC, so summertime gets extremely hot and it is hard to stay motivated. Our supervisor, Robby Bridgford, went above and beyond to make sure we worked hard every day, but also had Fun. When we finished setting up and cleaning the top floor, we had a breakfast potluck. When we were finishing the cafeteria, Rob came in dancing to music. There were so many little things he would do to make our lives easier and Fun. He always has a positive attitude and a smile on his face. He is the best boss I have worked for and I am very thankful for him."

  -- Christina Bell, Holm Elementary

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