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Adams 14 finalizes deal with company taking over management of the district

Students walk through the hall at Adams City High School between classes Monday, Feb. 4, 2019.
Students walk through the hall at Adams City High School between classes Monday, Feb. 4, 2019.
Michael Ciaglo/Special to the Denver Post

Adams 14 officials have signed an $8.3 million, four-year contract with Florida-based MGT Consulting, officially becoming the first district in the state to hand over management to a company.

The state Board of Education in November ordered the Commerce City-based district of Adams 14 to hire an external manager for at least four years, to handle much of the district’s operations in an attempt to improve the achievement of its approximately 7,000 students.

The contract, which took effect Saturday and will go through Sept. 30, 2023, lays out specific deadlines for initial work which will include conducting a needs assessment, collecting data, and prioritizing school needs.

According to the contract approved unanimously by the Adams 14 school board in a special meeting on Friday, MGT will manage the district through a newly created subsidiary, Adams 14 Schools Succeed, LLC.

Harry Bull, the former superintendent of Cherry Creek schools who was named Colorado’s 2017 superintendent of the year, will lead the turnaround of the district for MGT. The company has hired other former educators including Ron Cabrera; Don Rangel; and Cindy Stevenson, the former superintendent of Jeffco Public Schools. Babette Moreno, Kate Greeley and Ron Peterson will also lead segments of the project.

The cost of the contract will be spread over four years, and will decrease each year. Besides the $8.3 million base cost, an array of performance incentives in two categories could add nearly $1.7 million over four years if the district achieves all the contact’s set performance measures.

The first year, the most expensive, requires the district to pay a base of $3.47 million for the work and offers $385,000 in incentives.

Besides monthly reports, in the first year the company will be required to report to the state possible further actions that may be needed to improve Adams City High School and Central Elementary, two schools whose low performance individually triggered the state to step in. For the time being, the state opted not to give separate orders for the schools, to allow MGT to suggest a plan. Those school reports will be due Sept. 1.

The company must also submit a needs assessment 20 days after the state test results are released this fall, and must submit a plan to address the district’s culture and climate by Dec. 13.

The Attorney General’s office will review the contract to ensure it complies with the State Board order. If it doesn’t, the department could report the noncompliance to the State Board which could issue potential follow-up orders.

Throughout the process of selecting an external manager, State Board of Education members have had concerns that district officials would refuse to give up authority to enable the selected company to turn things around.

The contract attempts to clarify that the district will give the company “all formal decision-making authority needed to administer the affairs and programs of the district,” subject only to the limitations in law and board policy.

The contract allows for situations in which the district can end the contract sooner, such as if the performance of the district or its schools decreases substantially, if the district can’t afford the contract, or if the state releases the district from the obligation to hire an external manager.

Read the full contract below:

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