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Our Word is Our Bond, Sixth Edition | Spring 2024

“Springs greatest joy beyond a doubt is when it brings the children out.” - Edgar A. Guest

Goodbye Spring, Hello Summer!

Spring has come to an end! As we prepare for summer, let's take a look back at everything that has bloomed over the last few months at Denver Public Schools.


In the Spring 2024 edition of the “Our Word is Our Bond” newsletter, you will find updates on a variety of bond construction projects happening across Denver Public Schools.


In this time period we have toured schools that received school determined fund projects, held a groundbreaking ceremony for our first ever fully-inclusive ADA accessible playground, checked out a career tech education expansion project that recently began construction, and toured one of our new 18-21 year old life skills classrooms, all supported by our Denver voters!


All of these experiences and moments have helped us improve the adult, student, and system experience as part of our strategic roadmap. Let’s dive in!



Keep Scrolling for the Bond Updates We LOVE to See!


Students and Staff Break Ground on the First Ever Fully Inclusive Playground at Denver Public Schools!

The students, ranging from first to fifth graders, are on the design team and were inspired by a desire to share their playground with their friends with disabilities. They attend Denver Center for International School (DCIS), an ECE-fifth grade dual language immersion school in Denver’s Fairmont neighborhood.


The project, the first ever fully inclusive playground at Denver Public Schools, will allow all students to play together on the same play structure. The project will be funded with money from the $795 million dollar 2020 bond. After completion, the DCIS Fairmont playground will serve as a pilot project for similar playgrounds in the future.


The groundbreaking ceremony featured students singing "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley, free activity books, juice boxes and snacks, and remarks from district leadership on this remarkable student-led project.


"These students displayed the behavior we as adults are often trying to emulate, which is noticing something is not the way it should be, and immediately taking steps to change course, by asking themselves: what can we do to improve this situation? What can we do to create a more equitable world?" -- Dr. Alex Marrero, Superintendent of Denver Public Schools


Well done, DCIS students!


Montbello Community Tours Bring Excitement to Alumni, Incoming Students and Neighbors

In early spring, the contractor team behind the new Montbello High School, dubbed the “Reimagine Montbello'' project- a $139 million dollar bond investment in education in the far northeast- led tours for members of the Montbello community to see the progress of the new build. 


If you didn’t make it to a tour, don’t worry! We recorded everything, you can experience the tour virtually by watching the recap video above. Montbello’s new campus will open its doors to students in fall 2024. Thank you Denver voters!


McAuliffe's Slam Dunk!

The McAuliffe Sun Devils celebrated a new makeover, just in time for the March Madness finals!


Thanks to the Denver voters agreeing to pass a $795 million dollar bond in 2020, 133 schools across the district received school-determined fund packages to renovate and refresh their schools.


The basketball teams at McAuliffe have been enjoying their bond-funded gymnasium upgrade, which included 6 new state of the art basketball hoops, new wall pads, and new flooring. The Sun Devils also received a brand new volleyball net and courtyard turf, including 16 new tables for outdoor eating.


These improvements were made possible thanks to the 2020 bond and were part of the school determined fund series. Thank you Denver voters!


The Commanders Have a New Library

Calling all Commanders! Thank you for inviting us on a tour of your new and improved library. The JFK library renovations were funded by the 2020 bond.


The library renovation project fell under the bond’s School Determined Fund (SDF) category which consisted of $32 million dollars of funding for 133 DPS schools. SDFs account for a special series of school improvement bond initiatives that are self-determined by the schools that are being served and are made possible by Denver voters.


At John F. Kennedy High School, Design Advisory Group ("DAG") meetings were held with Principal Tiffany Almond, teachers, parents and a student. Together they selected the library renovation as their highest priority to enhance their school environment.


Denver North's 18-21 Year Old Program Feels the Benefits of New Life Skills Room

The 18-21 year old Transition Program At Denver Public Schools was designed to help young adults with disabilities prepare for independence. The program supports their post-secondary education, offers competitive integrated employment, and helps participants create independent living readiness goals in a community setting.


The 2020 Bond-funded life skills classroom at North High School was an investment in the program. The rooms include full kitchens, washer/dryer, fully accessible bathrooms with showers, new technology and new furniture.


"I can tell you Denver voters: this is exactly what needs to be happening to improve the experiences and outcomes for our students," -- Amy Swisher, Senior Manager of Special Education at Denver Public Schools


Watch our video tour to learn more.


Career Education Center (CEC) Prepares for an Autoshop Remodel!

Fred N. Thomas Career Education Center Early College (“CEC”) is expecting a new automotive shop thanks to Denver voters!


The 2020 bond provided funding for a remodel of the shop that will allow for more natural light, more space and modern, efficient, industry-standard equipment.


Students at CEC will benefit from the upgrades, but don’t just take our word for it: listen to the students themselves as they share their hopes and their excitement on this early construction tour!


"For Denver voters, when it comes to supporting programs like the CTE (Career Tech Education) programs, think of it as not just education but personal growth: you are preparing students for the workforce, you are preparing better workers and better humans in general," -- Emmanuel, student at CEC Early College


Women's History Month at Denver Public Schools: Equity in Bond


Marrero Moment With Trena Marsal

In honor of Women’s History Month, Dr. Marrero sat down with Trena Marsal, DPS’ Chief Operations Officer. Trena explains what it means to be a woman in leadership, more specifically in the C-suite, which refers to a company or organization's top management positions.


Trena speaks about the importance of mentorship, what drives her and her “why” for the work she does, and how she tackles making important decisions for the betterment of our schools.


“I’m from the old school, I believe it takes a village,” Trena said when speaking on the importance of collaboration in leadership.


Trena also explains what the bond-equity index means, and how this relates to bond spending. These are details everyone should become familiar with, you don’t want to miss this episode!


DPS’ Murugan Palani Wins CWCC 2024 Chamber Champion Award!

Murugan Palani serves as Director of the Office of Business Diversity for Denver Public Schools and is dedicated to championing supplier diversity. Murugan and his team oversee bond construction projects (for more information on bond projects visit our website) for the district, and they are tasked with finding the right contractors for the job.


Together with his team, Murugan helps ensure women and minority owned small business enterprises (“MWBE”) have a fair and equal opportunity to be a part of bond-funded work, with the goal of creating a supplier base that is reflective of our student population in its diversity.


In addition to his work for DPS, Murugan has served as a board member for the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce. This year he was given the Chamber Campion Award for his impact in activating economic equity in the workforce in the city of Denver. Watch this special recap of the State of Women in Business Breakfast to find out more about Murugan and DPS’ impact.


Final 2024 Community Planning and Advisory Committee Meeting

Over the last several months the Community Planning and Advisory Committee ("CPAC") have gathered together, often working into the late evening, to examine the needs of schools across the district. Our CPAC volunteers worked diligently and collaboratively to prepare recommendations on prioritizing funding for air conditioning, building maintenance, safety, technology and other essential investments.


Their recommendations will be presented to the Board of Education, and if the Board approves their recommendations, a 2024 Bond Package Proposal will appear on the November 2024 ballot for Denver voters. The Board of Education will vote on whether or not to approve the package in August.


On May 28th, the 2024 CPAC held their final meeting. Watch our video recap for a look inside all of the work that has gone into this volunteer-led and community centric process.


Annual Progress Report

Are you interested in learning more about how the $795 million from the 2020 bond, that Denver voters agreed to invest in public schools, is being spent?



A progress report highlighting the work that has been completed out of the 2020 bond package is now available. The report reflects all projects completed from the time the bond passed in November 2020, through the end of calendar year 2023.


The report reflects just under $600 million school improvements in our district, as well as the key projects to look forward to in 2024, including 7 AC installations. Read the full summary.

Bond in the Media

 

What is "Bond and Mill Levy" Anyway?

Both a bond and a mill levy are types of funding drawn from property taxes to support public projects and services. A bond is a one-time capital investment in schools and classrooms. For example, bond funds may help renovate older schools to update them for 21st-century learning, build brand-new school buildings and buy additional educational technology. A bond can invest in building upgrades such as critical maintenance, sustainability or air conditioning.


A mill levy funds ongoing operational needs such as teacher salaries, software, school nurses and social-emotional supports. While a bond funds the physical building of schools and classrooms, the mill levy funds bring the classroom to life. For more information on funding please review our school funding 101 resources.


Everyone Has a Voice at DPS

The details surrounding bond and mill levy can often be confusing, and we hope to rectify that -- in part -- with the development and distribution of this newsletter. Transparency is our goal and we are working hard to make sure the Denver community knows that the promises we made are promises we have kept.


All of our stakeholders have an important role in advocating for the improvements we make in our school district and the lives we are able to change in doing so. We hope this newsletter will illuminate that and will be both a call to action and a word of encouragement.


Thank you,

Giorgia Alexander

Bond and Mill Levy Communications Specialist for DPS



Questions or comments? Contact: giorgia_alexander@dpsk12.net

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