A neighboring school district, two charter operators, and several local and national education consultants are among those competing to manage the troubled Adams 14 school district.
In all, Adams 14 received nine proposals by the application deadline this week.
The applications vary from 25 to more than 100 pages detailing why each group believes it has what it takes to turn things around in Adams 14. Many of the applicants feature well-known educators, and some have already worked with Adams 14 schools.
Here are the nine applicants and their proposals:
- BrandEd Consultants
A marketing and education strategy consulting company out of Arvada. The group has worked with several colleges and schools including Denver Public Schools, Mullen High School (a Catholic school), and Denver-based charter network Strive Prep.
- District Renaissance Partners, a joint application by Empower Schools and Third Future Schools
Empower Schools is a nonprofit founded by leaders of the turnover of the school district in Lawrence, Mass. Third Future Schools is a nonprofit, charter school network run by Mike Miles, a former superintendent of the Dallas school district and the Harrison School District in Colorado Springs.
- Kingdom Solutions Enterprises
A management consulting, training, and research company led by Steve DelCastillo. The team for this proposal includes several other consultants including Kathy and Manuel Escamilla, who are bilingual education researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder, Ramon DelCastillo, a Chicano studies professor at Metropolitan State University, and Nita Gonzales the director of the former Escuela Tlatelolco school started by her father, activist Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales. Denver district officials ended a contract with the school following years of low performance, and the school closed soon after.
- Mapleton Public Schools
A neighboring school district of about 8,900 students in which about 60 percent of students qualify for subsidized lunches, a measure of poverty. Eighty-six percent of Adams 14 students fit that description.
- MGT Consulting with the University of Virginia
MGT worked with Aurora Public Schools on a strategic planning project recently, and is serving as the emergency manager of the Gary Community School Corporation in Indiana. The university’s Partnership for Leaders in Education has worked with several districts for leadership training including Denver, Aurora, and Englewood.
- Leadership Systems Consultant
This team of consultants would be led by Norman Ridder, a former superintendent, including of the Colorado Springs district from 2000 to 2005.
- Phalen Leadership Academies
A nonprofit network of charter schools rapidly growing in Indiana, with other locations in Florida and Michigan.
- Schools Cubed
An educational consultant out of Arvada. This group is already working with Adams 14 on improving early literacy.
- Zero Dropouts
An organization founded in Colorado in 2011 by educator Steve Dobo, who also created Colorado Youth for a Change, which runs programs aimed at preventing dropouts.
Now the district begins the work of vetting those applications, with community input, before the locally elected school board votes to pick one manager. The Adams 14 school board is scheduled to decide at its Feb. 12 meeting.
First, the district is allowing all 32 community members who signed up to be part of the vetting process review and score each application during a series of three meetings. The scores will help narrow the applicants to two or three who will be asked to come in for in-person interviews.
For the next step in the process, only those who live within the Adams 14 boundaries, that is 15 of those 32 engaged community members, will conduct small group interviews with the applicants. Many of those excluded represent employees or advocates who don’t live in the district.
All public feedback will be presented to the school board for consideration.
Once the district selects an external manager, the State Board of Education must vote to approve or deny the district’s choice. If the selection is approved, the district can begin negotiating a contract.
The Colorado State Board of Education required that Adams 14 become the first in the state to hand over much of its authority to an external manager following eight years of low performance The district had already been under a state-ordered improvement plan that failed to make a significant changes within one year.
Colorado law does not allow the state to take over a district that is failing, but the state board did have other options such as closing schools within the district, handing them to charter schools, or dissolving the district. If the district does not comply with the order to hand over much of its authority to an outside group, the state board can still revert to those other options.