DenverEducationNews

Want to weigh in on Denver’s next superintendent? Here are the meetings.

Author: Melanie Asmar, Chalkbeat Colorado - August 28, 2018 - Updated: August 28, 2018

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(Photo by RapidEye, istockphoto)

In response to lobbying from students, parents, and community members concerned that a speedy superintendent search would sideline them, Denver school board members said last week they would consider lengthening the timeline.

The board has been aiming to name finalists to replace outgoing Superintendent Tom Boasberg by Oct. 15. Boasberg announced last month that he would step down in mid-October after nearly 10 years at the helm of Denver Public Schools.

In a district often criticized for not listening to the community, board members had promised robust opportunities for residents to weigh in. But they didn’t announce a schedule for hearing from the public until Aug. 23, a month into the process. It includes six meetings in different regions of the city during the first three weeks of September, with more to come.

Member Jennifer Bacon said at the board’s monthly meeting last week that she planned to ask her colleagues to extend the search timeline for at least a month. She noted that it took 30 days to schedule the regional meetings, “and so I hope we can recover (that time).”

President Anne Rowe said the board would discuss later whether to do that.

“I want to acknowledge the needed deliberation that was suggested tonight … around the timeline,” Rowe said. “We will have that deliberation among the board of education.”

The community debate around the next superintendent has already gotten heated, with several groups offering criteria and desired qualifications. But last week’s meeting was the first time the board held a public comment session since Boasberg’s announcement. More than two dozen people signed up to talk about the search, and many of them urged board members to lengthen the timeline. Some asked to stretch the process over a full year.

“When I found out that the selection of the new superintendent would be occurring in such little time, I was shocked,” student Mildred Gonzalez, a junior at STRIVE Prep RISE charter high school in far northeast Denver, told the board. Gonzalez was there with a group of other students. “I also felt powerless because it seemed like I wasn’t going to be able to impact the decision or have a say in it.”

Board members laid out a four-pronged strategy to gather community feedback. It includes the big regional meetings (see schedule below), small stakeholder meetings, an online survey, and a dedicated public comment session to be held Sept. 10 at 4:30 p.m.

The online survey hasn’t been released yet. And although board member Carrie Olson said she and her colleagues had already met with 17 small stakeholder groups and had 29 more meetings scheduled over the next two weeks, the district did not divulge which groups were meeting with which board members and when.

Olson said board members had been meeting two at a time with the small groups. Any meeting with three or more board members must be posted as a public meeting under Colorado law.

Chalkbeat has made an open-records request for the list of the small stakeholder meetings.

The schedule for the big regional meetings is:

Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 5:30 p.m. at Abraham Lincoln High School, 2285 S. Federal Blvd.
Wednesday, Sept. 5 at 5:30 p.m. at John F. Kennedy High School, 2855 S. Lamar St.
Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 5:30 p.m. at Denver School of the Arts, 7111 Montview Blvd.
Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 5:30 p.m. at George Washington High School, 655 S. Monaco Pkwy.
Thursday, Sept. 13 at 5:30 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson High School, 3950 S. Holly St.
Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the Evie Dennis Campus, 4800 Telluride St.

The board plans to schedule additional meetings in the Green Valley Ranch and Montbello neighborhoods in far northeast Denver, and in the near northeast, central, west, and northwest regions of the city. Anyone may attend any meeting, regardless of where they live.

 

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.

Erin Prater

Erin Prater is Colorado Politics' digital editor. She is a multimedia journalist with 15 years of experience writing, editing and designing for newspapers, magazines, websites and publishing houses. Her previous positions include military reporter at The Gazette, general assignment reporter at The Huerfano County (Colo.) World, copy editor at David C. Cook publishing house and adjunct mass communication instructor at Pueblo Community College. Her bylines include The New York Times Upfront, The Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, S.D.), Military Spouse magazine and Omaha Magazine (Omaha, Neb.). Her syndicated bylines include The Denver Post, MSNBC.com, Military.com and wire services.