Summer | Issue 37 | Date: August 23, 2023

Funding Great Schools. Rooted in Community. 

Welcome Back: Celebrations to

Start the 2023-34 School Year

The 2023-24 school year kicked off with milestones for two Denver public charter school networks.

STRIVE Prep schools are now part of the Rocky Mountain Prep public charter school network, under the Rocky Mountain Prep name.

With declining enrollment across Denver, the unification of the networks has created a more efficient organization that allows for greater support and resources to be directed to schools, teachers and classrooms.

Now, Rocky Mountain Prep has 12 schools that provide a pathway for more than 5,000 students from early childhood education to graduation in a high-quality nonprofit, public charter school setting. 

Rocky Mountain Prep started the school year with a new middle and high school English language arts and math curriculum, and new values to define the culture for students and staff. Rocky Mountain Prep’s PEAK values celebrate Perseverance, Excellence, Adventure and Kindness, and they provide a foundation for the network’s safe and inclusive schools.

Learn More About Rocky Mountain Prep

DSST Public Schools is celebrating its 20th year serving students and families in the Denver metro area. 

In 2004, DSST’s inaugural ninth grade class had 129 students enrolled in its first school. Now, the network’s 900 educators and team members serve more than 17,000 students in 16 schools. 

For two decades, DSST’s rigorous curriculum and commitment to students have resulted in 100% of its graduating seniors being accepted to college or postsecondary programs.

“Our ongoing success is a testament to the dedication and perseverance of our educators, staff, parents, and, most importantly, our exceptional students,” said Bill Kurtz, the chief executive officer of DSST Public Schools, and the founding principal of DSST’s first school.

Learn More About DSST Public Schools

Two Summer Learning Programs Put Students First

Two unique summer learning programs supported by RootED Denver provided students with fun, rigorous and culturally-responsive activities. 

The Achieving Excellence Academy’s summer cultural immersion program served students who have been historically underserved, with an emphasis on students of color. 

The academy provided students in affinity groups with customized enrichment activities, and opportunities to celebrate and discover their cultures, explore their identities, build relationships with one another, and grow their leadership abilities. 

Through the academy’s project-based learning curriculum, students also created podcasts, zines and action plans around social justice. 

“With ongoing community support, family involvement, and the dedication of educators, this program continues to provide a transformative educational experience, nurturing students’ sense of belonging, coalition building, and leadership skills,” Ashlea Skiles, the program director for the Achieving Excellence Academy, wrote for Boardhawk.  

Read More About the Achieving Excellence Academy

The Students Cultivating Dignity Enrichment Program supports gifted and talented students and their families year-round. 

Its free summer camp provides underrepresented students in International Baccalaureate, advanced placement, magnet or gifted and talented programs with access to college-age mentors and interactive cultural lessons. 

The camp’s educators help families and students evaluate eligibility and prepare for advanced courses. It also hosts virtual college fairs with historically Black colleges and universities, and institutions that serve students of color through robust cultural and ethnic studies programs. 

“Through our work, we are proud to support so many families in advocating for their students’ futures as well as help schools find and aid identified and unidentified gifted students through their educational journey to success,” Shalelia J. Dillard, founder and executive director of Student’s Cultivating Dignity Enrichment Program, wrote for Boardhawk. 

Read More About Students Cultivating Dignity

Learn More About CMAS Results for Denver Public Schools

Last week, the Colorado Department of Education released results for the 2023 Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) assessments. 

CMAS tests help us understand academic proficiency and growth. Proficiency tells us if students are reading or doing math at grade level. Growth tells us how much progress in proficiency students are making in reading and math from one year to the next. 

Together, proficiency and growth help us know how well our school system and support structures are equitably meeting the needs of all students. The tests also help us know if some students aren’t receiving the support they need, so changes can be made to improve learning for them and help us identify successful strategies we can learn from. 

In this case, the 2023 CMAS data tells us there is a tremendous amount of work to be done to provide Denver’s schools and educators with needed resources—in areas such as leader and teacher retention, professional learning, curriculum development, and in other support services—to help every learner thrive. 

The Colorado Sun, in partnership with the Keystone Policy Center, and Chalkbeat Colorado have shared interactive tools to search CMAS results by district, school or student demographic.

Find CMAS Test Scores by School or District
Search a Map of Student Academics in Colorado

Denver Board of Education Continues Conversations about School Closures and Consolidations

The Denver Public Schools Board of Education will propose new executive limitations to address declining enrollment and school closures and consolidations.

Broadly, proposed Executive Limitation 18 and Executive Limitation 19 would require the superintendent to:

  • Consider schools for closure and consolidation in ways that distribute the burden of declining enrollment across Denver and maximize student resources and opportunities;
  • Engage the community to inform and co-create recommendations for addressing declining enrollment; and
  • Develop enrollment boundaries and enrollment zones that account for shifting demographics and housing trends

The executive limitations would not allow the superintendent to use enrollment minimums, state standardized test scores or state School Performance Framework ratings as criteria for closure or consolidation. 

They would also require the superintendent to inform and help families, guardians and students understand the enrollment options available to them; consider financially sustainable enrollment in elementary schools; and plan for safe and accessible pedestrian paths to schools. 

The board is scheduled to consider the executive limitations at its Aug. 24 meeting.

Read the Proposed Executive Limitation 18
Read the Proposed Executive Limitation 19
Upcoming Events
Mark your calendars with these important dates:

Aug. 24

Denver Public Schools Board of Education Board Meeting

Sept. 7

Denver Public Schools Board of Education Work Session

Sept. 11

Denver Public Schools Board of Education Budget Advisory Committee Meeting

Sept. 18

Denver Public Schools Board of Education Public Comment Session and Progress Monitoring Session

Sept. 21

Denver Public Schools Board of Education Board Meeting

Sept. 27

Colorado Department of Education's Fall 2023 Schools of Choice Equity Convening

Oct. 9

Colorado League of Charter Schools Leadership Summit

1390 Lawrence Street, Suite #200
Denver, CO 80204
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