Denver schools in “innovation zone” want charter-like financial freedoms

The Denver school district is soliciting more schools to join its first “innovation zone.”

By Melanie Asmar, Chalkbeat

The Denver school district is soliciting more schools to join its first “innovation zone,” a bold experiment that grants broad autonomy to public schools, even as the district is once again negotiating with the zone over how its schools should be funded.

A key element of the zone is that its schools can opt out of certain district services and use that money to buy things that meet their students’ specific needs. But less than two years after the zone was created, its leaders are asking for even more financial freedom.


Five ideas to help Denver students get to the schools they choose

Denver gets national kudos for its robust school choice system, but the district has also been criticized for not doing enough to help some students get to their chosen schools.

The sun rises over Denver, as seen from Denver Public Schools' Hilltop Bus Terminal, the mothership of their daily logistics operation. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) sunrise; cityscape; skyline; school bus; denverite; kevinjbeaty; denver; colorado;
The sun rises over Denver, as seen from Denver Public Schools’ Hilltop Bus Terminal, the mothership of their daily logistics operation. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

By Melanie AsmarChalkbeat

Denver gets national kudos for its robust school choice system, but the district has also been criticized for not doing enough to help some students get to their chosen schools.

Now, as families begin submitting their school choices for next year, one of the most persistent local critics has offered a set of recommendations to improve what it calls the district’s “antiquated transportation policies.” Among them: Make more high school students eligible for transportation by shortening the distance they must live from school to qualify.


Disparities persist even though most high-poverty schools in Colorado have gifted programs

Black and Hispanic students in Colorado are placed in gifted and talented programs at a lower rate than their peers.

By Ann SchimkeChalkbeat

There’s good news and bad news for Colorado in a new state-by-state report on gifted and talented education.

On the plus side, Colorado is one of only six states where at least 90 percent of high-poverty elementary and middle schools offer gifted and talented programs. In other states — such as Michigan, Massachusetts and Rhode Island – fewer than 10 percent of high-poverty schools offer gifted and talented programs.


Denver’s school choice process starts Feb. 1. Here’s what’s different this year.

It’s all online this year, which means no more paper applications. And the timing has been pushed back.

The sun rises over Denver, as seen from Denver Public Schools' Hilltop Bus Terminal, the mothership of their daily logistics operation. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) sunrise; cityscape; skyline; school bus; denverite; kevinjbeaty; denver; colorado;
The sun rises over Denver, as seen from Denver Public Schools’ Hilltop Bus Terminal, the mothership of their daily logistics operation. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

By Melanie AsmarChalkbeat

Thursday marks the opening of school choice season in Denver, and students and families picking their top schools for next year will experience several changes to the process.

The two biggest: It’s all online this year, which means no more paper applications. And the timing has been pushed back. In years past, families would submit their school choices in January and learn in March which schools they got into. This year, families will submit their choices between Feb. 1 and Feb. 28. They are expected to get results in April.