Denver Public Schools has done it again: expedience versus quality leadership. In selecting chief financial officer Tom Boasberg as superintendent, they continue to place adult wants over children’s needs. The chief education officer position is still empty after Jamie Acquino’s departure in September. Michael Bennet, Mayor Hickenlooper’s choice for superintendent two and a half years ago, may not have been a student of educational reform when he entered 900 Grant, but as a visionary, he quickly grasped the politics of a school system, and made tough, unpopular decisions. He saw, not only the reality of Denver Public Schools, but what Denver Public Schools could be. He became supportive of Denver’s charter schools. His reforms were not sweeping, but were consistent in purpose: quality delivery of educational services in the most financially efficient way.
Tom Boasberg is no Michael Bennet and no friend to charter schools. Four years ago, Cole Middle School closed due to consistent underperformance on CSAP tests. Under state law, the school district needed to turn the school into a charter school. They asked the community to present possible charter programs. When KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) did not come up to the plate because of a difference in organization and DPS’s criteria of students to be served, they asked KIPP to present. They did. DPS wanted their sixth and seventh graders (who the following school year would be seventh and eighth graders) to be served even though KIPP middle school programs generally begin in the fifth grade and add a grade each year through eighth grade.
DPS rented the top floor with lower floor gymnasium access to KIPP- Cole College Prep for $100,000 for the school year and an enrollment of 100. The following year with only 50 eighth graders and half the floor in use, Denver Public Schools refused to renegotiate the lease and charged $100,000 for the school year. Not having a budget to hire enough personnel to prepare eighth graders for the finest schools in the Denver metropolitan area and market to families with fifth graders, KIPP closed Cole College Prep. That is a true travesty for the Cole neighborhood.
Two years ago, Denver Public Schools, with Boasberg at the helm of finance sent a memo out to regular Denver Public Schools employees which said that any school that enrolls a student who previously attended a charter school, will receive a bonus. It is all dollars and no sense to him. I frequently recommend students to programs and high schools run by Denver Public Schools because that is what that student needs!
Then again this past December, Boasberg approved the billing of charter schools for additional monies for Denver School Retirement Program (see my Scrooge blog) and only ten days to find the money! Tom Boasberg is no visionary and no friend to charter schools.
I urge parents to organize and elect members to the Denver Public School Board who place student interests ahead of special interests.
Kathleen Kullback is a licensed special educator at Colorado High School Charter with a M.A. in Educational Leadership. She is a former candidate for the State Board of Education.