View Resource: Call for New Quality Schools 2016
This document from Denver Public Schools is an example of their annual invitation to interested parties to apply to open a new school in Denver. One unique feature of the Denver process is that both charter schools and district-run schools go through the same review and approval process prior to opening. This ensures that a standard set of quality criteria is applied prior to opening for any new public school. This document opens by reminding the audience of the broader strategic plan and goal for having a high percentage of performing schools in Denver (see Denver Strategic Plan). The primary function of the document is to explain where DPS sees needs for new schools; these needs may arise out of existing over-crowding or out of persistently low-performing schools that need to be replaced. This document works through the regions of the city that need new schools and explains the student demographics in these neighborhoods so that school developers can tailor their applications to meet the needs of the specific students. This document also explains the Denver “placement process” (i.e. match process). The outcome to this process is a series of recommendations to the Denver Board of Education, a sample for which is provided in the Call for New Quality Schools Board Recommendations 2015.
Outcomes and Lessons Learned: The Call for New Quality Schools process originally debuted in Denver in approximately 2009. Since that time, a number of related policies have been put in place to clarify performance expectations for all schools and to establish shared goals around the agreed percentage of schools that should be high performing in each region of the city. The Call is separate from the actual school application guides that walk potential applicants through the detailed questions that they need to address when applying to open a new district-run or charter school. DPS has tried various strategies to engage community members in the conversation about new schools and both requires applicants to demonstrate some degree of community support and also facilitates community forums where applicants present their ideas and vision. Colorado state law forbids a district authorizer from denying a charter applicant simply because there is not a documented need for new schools in the region or neighborhood where the charter intends to locate. However, the law does let an authorizer consider whether a school is likely to be financially viable and obtaining adequate enrollment is a large piece of financial viability. To that end, the Call document has evolved to share detailed information about where there is over- and under-supply of school seats in neighborhoods throughout the city.
Call for New Quality Schools Board Recommendations 2015