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DPS still unsure which programs will take over Kepner

Families and observers of Kepner Middle School are still a few days away from learning which new programs will take over the district’s lowest-performing school.

Denver Public Schools staff today recommended two new schools open in the southwest Denver, where Kepner is located, in the 2015-16 school year. However, whether those schools will be a part of the district’s reform effort at Kepner Middle School is yet to be determined.

The district’s innovation and reform office, which reviews new school applications and makes recommendations annually, suggested the DPS Board of Education approve the applications for a new STRIVE charter school and the Southwest Denver Community School.

STRIVE is one of the largest and most successful charter school networks in Denver. It currently operates nine schools. A tenth STRIVE campus is expected to open next fall as well. The Southwest Community School is a new concept pitched in part with the education advocacy organization City Year, which places aides in classrooms with high populations of low income students.

The board is expected to vote on those recommendations at its June 12 meeting.

A third new charter school is also expected to open in southwest Denver during the 2015 school year. The DSST charter network was approved for a campus in southwest Denver last year.

All three charters have applied to be placed at the Kepner campus, where the district-run school will be phased out by 2018. However, the district has yet to make a recommendation to the board on which programs to place there.

DPS officials announced a phase-in, phase-out plan at Kepner earlier this year.

The district is expected to make a recommendation on which programs to place at the Kepner campus within a week, said Alyssa Whitehead-Bust, DPS’s chief innovation officer.

Meanwhile, administrators have announced a change of leadership at Kepner. DPS veteran Elza Guajardo will replace Stephen Linkous as principal during the phase-out.

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