The Denver school board Thursday unanimously approved 11 new elementary charter schools, all of which are part of charter networks that already have a presence in the city.
The board also approved new elementaries that would be managed by the school district and three charter high schools, one of which targets teenagers in addiction recovery.
In winning board approval, the schools cleared a necessary hurdle to open in the state’s largest district. But that doesn’t mean all will open, or open right away. Some are seeking placement in a Denver Public Schools building, while others are planning to find their own real estate.
DPS every year solicits new schools to join its nationally recognized “portfolio” of district-run, innovation, charter and magnet schools. Because of slowing enrollment growth, the district didn’t solicit any new standalone schools this year. Such schools were still welcome to apply — and many did. But the only new schools sought by the district were replacements for existing schools scheduled to be closed due to chronic poor performance.
Three of the elementary schools approved Thursday are competing to serve as a replacement for low-performing Amesse Elementary, which is slated to close next year.
However, only two of the schools will move forward to the next stage of the competition: consideration by a review board that will recommend which school the DPS board should pick when it makes its final decision next month. District staff found the plan for teaching English language learners submitted by the other school, University Prep, fell short of requirements.
Two other elementary schools applied to replace Greenlee Elementary, also scheduled to close.
But the board on Thursday rejected the application of one of them, a Wyoming-based charter school called PODER Academy whose founder complained his school wasn’t given a fair shot because of “prior controversy.” As such, only one school will move forward to the review board.
DPS board members also denied a charter to SLAM Colorado, a proposed school based on a Miami charter that focuses on sports and was founded by rapper Pitbull.
Several board members noted that both DPS staff and an independent committee of community members that reviewed the charter application found that the proposals submitted by PODER and SLAM did not meet the district’s quality standards.
Superintendent Tom Boasberg said he’s encouraged “to see such a strong mix of schools, both district-run and charter,” get approved. He said the large number of new elementary schools speaks to “a real focus on the district-level and the charter side on really trying to strengthen our elementary schools” after years of focusing more on improving secondary schools.
Below, read the applications of all the new schools approved Thursday:
The Center for Talent Development at Greenlee, a district-run elementary school proposed by the current Greenlee principal as a replacement for the program that will shutter next year.
The Montbello Children’s Network, a district-run elementary school proposed by the principal of nearby McGlone Academy as a replacement for Amesse.
Denver Elementary Community School 1, 2, 3 and 4, four district-run elementary schools proposed by DPS central-office staff members that could serve as replacements for low-performing schools slated for closure in the future.
KIPP Sunshine Peak Elementary, a charter elementary school that would serve southwest Denver and add to the roster of KIPP schools already operating in Denver.
Rocky Mountain Prep 4, 5 and 6, three more schools in the elementary-focused charter network, which currently operates two schools in Denver and one in Aurora.
STRIVE Prep Elementary 4, 5 and 6, three more elementary schools in the local charter network, which currently operates 11 schools serving kindergarten through 12th grade.
A previously approved STRIVE Prep Elementary is competing to replace Amesse.
University Prep 3, 4, 5 and 6, four more schools in the elementary-focused charter network, which currently operates two schools in Denver. University Prep 3 is also competing to replace Amesse but its application will not move forward in the process because it did not meet the requirements of a program to teach English language learners.
5280 High School, a charter high school focused on project-based learning that would also offer a program for students in recovery from addiction, eating disorders and other challenges.
The CUBE, a personalized learning charter high school aiming to open in northeast Denver.
Colorado High School Charter GES, another location of a charter alternative high school.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that two other schools, Cooperative Community Schools and an expansion of Academy 360, also won approval. The board did not vote on those schools Thursday.