Bill’s Weekly Reflection: A decision as important as the Presidential election?
We have important choices to make this November at the ballot box – including President of the United States. We also will have a chance to decide the future of Denver Public Schools. In November, Denver residents will vote on an important measure to fund improvements throughout Denver Public Schools (DPS). Budget cuts, combined with an increase in enrollment over the past five years have created a need for increased resources to fill school budget gaps, as well as to support facility improvements. Given the difficult economic times and declining school funding, the bond has taken on increased significance and importance for our schools.
The two components of the mill levy and bond proposal (3A and 3B) will put $49 million towards expanding instructional programs and $466 million to institute safety upgrades, renovations to infrastructure and failing facilities, greening schools, and updating technology.
Several line items in the bond will impact existing and future DSST campuses. In fact, DSST has $38 million of joint DPS–DSST projects in the bond (initiative 3B). Together DPS and DSST are working to completely renovate the existing Byers campus in the Washington Park neighborhood, which has been vacant and in disrepair for many years. This project will allow us to open up our fifth 6-12 campus beginning in the fall of 2013 with a 6th grade class. At full enrollment, the campus will serve over 900 students.
Additional allocations for improvements within the bond will allow DSST: College View and DSST: Cole to open high schools in their facilities. At DSST: Cole, the growth plan includes renovation of the Mitchell school building, adjacent to the existing school building, which will accommodate our middle school so that the high school can open in the current Cole space. The bond will support the building of a high school at College View to ensure we can build out a full 6-12 campus at Colorado Heights.
There is a lot at stake for DSST Public Schools and for Denver Public Schools. While DSST Public Schools cannot take position on either the mill or the bond, I personally support both initiatives. Mary Seawell, DPS School Board President recently said, "The bond and mill measures represent the most critical projects that need to be funded to help our children attend schools in safe, modernized buildings and improved learning environments and have access to the kinds of programs and services that increase their academic achievement. All students will benefit, all schools will see a change."
To learn more about the bond/mill levy and where the dollars will specifically be spent, visit the DPS Bond website at http://bond.dpsk12.org. Regardless of where you sit on these issues, you should be sure to vote on these initiatives as they represent big directional differences for the funding of public education in Denver.