As the city continues to grow and housing prices increase, however, diverse neighborhoods are struggling to balance the challenges of gentrification with their rich cultural histories. Many parts of Denver are undergoing major shifts in demographics, which is resulting in significant changes in housing patterns and a major reduction in many neighborhoods of school-aged children.
To address these concerns, DPS has created the Strengthening Neighborhoods Initiative to help address racial and socio-economic diversity in schools and issues of school consolidation in neighborhoods that are losing the highest number of school-aged children. In support of the initiative, the Denver Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution establishing a citywide committee to review changing demographics and housing patterns in Denver and the effect on its schools; make recommendations on DPS’ policies around boundaries, choice, enrollment and academic programs to drive greater socioeconomic integration in schools; and consider how to think about school choice and school consolidation to ensure that all schools offer high-quality, sustainable programs for kids in the face of sharp declines in the number of school-aged children in gentrifying neighborhoods.
In advance of the first committee meeting being held later this evening, Board of Education members and Superintendent Tom Boasberg, along with city and community partners, gathered Monday afternoon at the Emily Griffith Campus to speak to the goals of the Strengthening Neighborhoods Initiative.
“We strive to teach the whole child as they travel on a path to be life-long learners thriving in a 21st century global economy. In this regard, the research is very clear. If we are to succeed in truly educating our students, we must create vibrant, socioeconomic and racially diverse learning environments that reflect the diversity of our communities,” said Superintendent Tom Boasberg. “We have made progress. Our schools are more diverse than a decade ago. They are also far from our goal, and significant economic forces are working against us. The rapidly rising cost of housing and the gentrification of neighborhoods is making our work more difficult and all the more important.”
“The conversation will be difficult at times because the issue is very complex,” added committee co-chair Antwan Jefferson. “But we can create a rich, diverse learning environment for all our students.”
The Citywide Committee on Strengthening Neighborhoods is comprised of 42 members who represent the ethnic, geographic and professional diversity of Denver’s community. Over 50% of the committee members are current DPS parents and over 60% are people of color. The mission of this committee is to develop data and research-based recommendations on strategies to increase racial and socioeconomic integration, as well as optimum school enrollment levels to drive higher quality academic learning and whole child development within every DPS school.
There will be ten meetings between June and December and the committee will provide its first update to the Board of Education in September. Meetings are open to the public and information will be posted onwww.dpsk12.org/neighborhoods. There will be opportunities for community members to share feedback in person at each meeting, as well as through various online feedback tools.
Denver Public Schools (DPS) is committed to operating and sustaining high-quality, socioeconomically integrated schools throughout all communities. High-quality integrated schools not only offer the best educational outcomes for our children but also serve a vital function in promoting and sustaining vibrant neighborhoods.