Thursday Churn: New start date?

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

A potential new start date for the Denver Public Schools will be under discussion today as a task force examining the feasibility of a later kickoff to the school year prepares its findings, which will be presented to school board members on Monday.

Superintendent Tom Boasberg has said he was open to a discussion about revising the calendar following an unusually hot August. This year some schools started Aug. 10 and the rest on Aug. 18. The hot spell, combined with the fact that many classrooms lack air conditioning, caused several students and staff to be treated for heat-related illnesses.

DPS launched the task force in October, and that group held a series of public meetings throughout the district in November. It also sponsored a public survey in English and Spanish.

Denver’s Get Smart Schools is celebrating after being recognized as one of the country’s six top charter incubators, according to a report released Wednesday by Public Impact. The report, Better Choices: Charter Incubation as a Strategy for Improving the Charter School Sector, was prepared by Public Impact for the Cities for Education Entrepreneurship Trust and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

The report focuses on “incubation” as a key strategy in improving the nation’s charter schools, defining the term as “the strategic recruitment, selection, and training of promising leaders, and the support of those leaders as they launch or expand new charter schools in cities or specific geographic regions.” Get Smart Schools, founded in Denver in 2008, has goals of preparing 85 new school leaders by 2020 and creating more than 50 new autonomous schools in that same time.

“I think we’re really honored to be included in the company of organizations such as New Schools and the Mind Trust, which we think are really well-established, promising organizations,” said Amy Slothower, executive director of Get Smart Schools. “It’s exciting for us to be presented as peers.”

Read the full report here.

The Board of Governors of the Colorado State University System approved a $124.5 million bond package that includes upgrades to classroom and learning facilities for students in agriculture; a new, state-of-the-art undergraduate housing facility for more than 600 students, and renovation of the 50-year-old Lory Student Center.

Students have voted to increase their fees to pay for the majority of the Lory renovation, and students who live in the new housing development will pay for that facility. The total bond package approved Wednesday includes:

  • $7.5 million for a partial renovation of the Animal Sciences Building to prepare the building for future expansion and enhancement
  • $60 million for the student center renovation
  • $57 million for the new housing development and renovation of the existing Durrell Center

More detail is available on the CSU web site here.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Harrison Superintendent Mike Miles has been named Colorado Springs’ “Civic Innovator of the Year.” The Center for the Study of Government and the Individual each year honors community members who have made a difference in Colorado Springs. Story

“The Middle School Freak Out” is the annual hunt by parents looking for the best educational options for their children. Colorado Public Radio reporter Jenny Brundin visited the Denver Expo, where middle and high schools could showcase their education wares and hand out “schwag” meant to entice conversations and sell their programs. Story

The Colorado Association of School Boards annual convention at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs regularly raises questions about the appropriateness of such a plush setting in tight budget times. This year, the controversy is brewing in Greeley. Story

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.