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Rising first graders write their names in chalk during summer school at Denver’s Munroe Elementary School in June 2022. (Melanie Asmar, Chalkbeat)

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Voters will choose three Denver school board members on Nov. 7.

Eight candidates are running for the three seats. Two of the three races — in southeast Denver’s District 1 and northwest Denver’s District 5 — feature incumbents.

The third seat is at-large, meaning the board member represents the entire city. That race does not feature an incumbent since board Vice President Auon’tai Anderson dropped out of the running.

The election has the potential to shift the dynamics of the board, which has been criticized for infighting between some members. It could also change the board’s approach to solving the problems of declining enrollment in Denver Public Schools and school safety, which has become a topic of debate after a shooting at East High School.

The Denver Classroom Teachers Association has endorsed the two incumbents: Scott Baldermann in District 1 and Charmaine Lindsay in District 5. The teachers union also endorsed Kwame Spearman for the at-large seat.

Denver Families Action, a group that supports education reform and charter schools, has endorsed a different set of candidates: Kimberlee Sia in District 1, Marlene De La Rosa in District 5, and John Youngquist in the at-large race.

To help voters make their decisions, Chalkbeat sent all of the candidates the same set of questions. Their answers are below. Responses may have been edited for formatting or trimmed for length, but otherwise each candidate’s answers are as submitted.

Note: Former at-large candidate Paul Ballenger dropped out of the race but will still appear on the ballot. We did not include him in our voter guide because votes for Ballenger won’t count.

At-large candidates

Brittni Johnson
(No response)

Q: What do you see as the biggest issue facing your district today and how do you hope to have an impact on said issue as a school board member?

Spearman: Safety is our biggest singular issue – but our concerns with safety run parallel to an equally large issue: we are having a crisis of confidence with our current board and DPS leaders. This issue naturally impacts all other matters in question at DPS, and threatens our ability to have safe schools.

To regain trust, DPS must demonstrate we can focus on student achievement and teacher success rather than infighting, political grandstanding, and social media.

We must innovate to solve the youth mental health epidemic, recruit special education and BIPOC teachers, and decrease class sizes, so our teachers can better support our students. We must build teacher housing. This level of district-wide innovation can only be achieved with cohesive leadership. I will help build a cohesive board so we can replace the Resign DPS signs with optimism that we can have a district that once again is leading the nation.

Youngquist: The redesign of safety and mental health systems is the most urgent issue that the DPS faces today. As a principal with eighteen years experience, I know that addressing safety and mental health concerns are vital to the engagement of our children and we must take action now. I will have an impact by requiring the superintendent to: create a formal agreement with Denver Police and other safety partners within my first 60 days on the board; require student, parent, and principal voices be present in a full redesign of the DPS discipline policy; direct significant increases in mental health services at school sites and recommend a tripling of School-based Health Clinics, and require a redesign of district mental health services including innovative actions like an adaptation of Denver Support Team Assisted Response Systems (STAR) for the school site.

Q: Enrollment in DPS is declining, and the school board voted this year to close three small schools. As a board member, would you vote to close schools with low enrollment?

Spearman: In short – no – I do not believe schools should be closed simply for low enrollment. If we choose to consolidate, we need to consider a myriad of factors, including equitable distribution across geography, social economic status, community destabilization and neighborhood. We should have plans on how we can build affordable housing and make the closed school a community hub.

That being said, I believe with great schools in every neighborhood, we can mitigate the need for closures. Let’s focus on innovating our schools. We lose 8% of our students to private schools and students leaving the district. We also have 400,000 students in adjacent districts that could come into DPS through choice. Great schools will bring us more students. We can also work with the community to formally expand the roles of our schools by exploring shared-use agreements to ensure schools can be community hubs for our great neighborhoods.

Youngquist: As a principal I’ve seen both small schools and large schools be excellent options for students. The steady decline in student enrollment in Denver schools is concerning, and closing schools with little notice and no transparency is not the solution. It is irresponsible to take a vote without first having: a transparent understanding of current and forecasted budget realities and enrollment information at the district and neighborhood levels, a deep understanding of the needs and interests that exist within our school communities, and a strong partnership with our Mayor and City Council. We need to stop treating the school closure process like it is a surprise brought to our doorstep every October. Instead, we need to create a twelve to eighteen month ongoing process that allows the right information and relationships within our community to inform the decisions that we make as a board.

Q: The school board reinstated police known as school resource officers, or SROs, in some DPS schools after a shooting inside East High this year. Do you agree with that decision? How should DPS ensure students are safe?

Spearman: We should have never removed SROs from schools without a clear plan on how to ensure students and teachers would remain safe without them. I support SROs in schools presently, as do over 70% of our residents. Moving forward, we must reimagine the role of SROs to prevent the criminalization and unjust targeting of Black and Latino students. While creating strategies to ensure our schools are safe, I also believe that we must aspire to remove all guns from schools and work towards a reality where we can keep our schools safe without armed police officers.

We also need to reinvest in alternative learning environments for DPS students who are either creating serious disciplinary issues or dealing with criminal charges. Every student deserves an amazing education with DPS, but we must embrace that different learning environments are needed to support individual students and our schools as a whole.

Youngquist: In November, 2021, I wrote my first email to the superintendent because there was no response to the many school threats at my school and others. Four more letters were ignored until, after more than a year, a child was shot and later died. After two more staff members were shot, the only action taken was to bring SROs back. Yes, I agree with the decision to return SROs because the board and superintendent have continued to fail to take other action. Even a newly minted “Long-term Safety Plan” has few new ideas and is failing in initial implementation. With SROs present as necessary partners, we must require DPS to finally create and implement a plan for safety that includes: A solid agreement with our external safety partners; a strengthening of school culture, behavior, and mental health systems; training and support for our professionals who serve our students every day.

Q: DPS student test scores decreased during the pandemic and are now rebounding. But big gaps remain between white students and Black and Hispanic students. What should the district do to improve student achievement and close academic gaps?

Spearman: First, we need our leaders to acknowledge that we have two districts within DPS: a high performing district for our white students, and an underperforming district for our Black and Latino students. Even in our flagship schools, it’s easy to see segregation. As a Black, male DPS alum, I experienced it first-hand as a student. We need Board members who not only can identify this segregation, but who are ready to address it because they lived it.

Second, we need great schools in every neighborhood. More affluent students have access to choice in a way that can only be counterbalanced with strong neighborhood schools in every part of the city. We can do this by innovatively thinking through school funding, and ensuring our schools have equitable resources. We also must run a transportation mill levy in 2024 – as our schools are severely underfunded. And we must limit competition amongst schools.

Youngquist: As an elementary principal, high school principal, and chief academic officer, I have hands-on experience and have demonstrated results supporting students and teachers to increase the achievement of Black, Latino/a, and Indigenous students. The district must engage in a deep root cause analysis and take action based on the findings – actions may include: parent engagement strategies related to the full engagement of the diversity of parents in a school, a review of curricular material to ensure that students’ cultures are represented in the context of the instructional resources used in each classroom, and amending testing practices to ensure that they are supportive of the learning and life experience of students. The district should encourage sharing practices between school communities where there is evidence of actions that are improving the equitable outcomes as well as prioritize the hiring of teachers of color.

Q: The school board has rejected charter school applications in recent years, citing enrollment concerns. The board has also limited autonomy at innovation schools. Do you agree with the board’s approach or would you want to move in a different direction? Why?

Spearman: School choice is critical. Our parents love the ability to select the best educational environment for their child, and I believe it positively affects learning outcomes.

Within our family of schools, all schools in DPS should have the same accountability framework. We should neither rubber stamp charter renewals or blindly reject renewals solely because the school in question is a charter school.

Thus, as a board member I will focus on three significant questions when considering any charter school renewals:

Is the school effectively closing equity and opportunity gaps between different groups of students?

Is the school attracting families from diverse economic backgrounds?

Is the school a full partner within our education family (i.e. working collaboratively with DPS and a fair partner)?

Regarding autonomy at innovation, school leaders who are thriving deserve autonomy. We also need to ensure that any individual school’s autonomy is not creating unintended consequences for the district at large.

Youngquist: We need a Board capable of directing the district in the complexities of: defining our context, creating a vision for the future, designing our system, and providing resources to ensure that all students achieve equitable levels of success no matter the school they attend. School choice is both a statutory requirement and an expectation of DPS parents. Denver families deserve to have excellent schools in every neighborhood and choices available that meet their children’s needs. At this moment, district run schools are not provided with the resources and flexibility they require, innovation schools are unsure of the status they hold in DPS, and charter schools, no longer a new concept, have to prove their value like the others. We are in a moment of opportunity to create clarity and purpose with school choice in the Denver Public Schools.

Q: Under current policy, the school board sets high-level goals for the district but leaves operational details to the superintendent. What’s one goal you would set and how would you provide oversight?

Spearman: 100% of our students and teachers need to feel safe inside their schools. This goal requires a best in nation safety plan that encompasses four metrics that the Board can assess effectiveness. We must:

Eradicate all guns from schools to ensure that buildings are safe and we can evolve the roles of our SROs to become Community representatives.

Reimagine the discipline matrix to embrace differentiated learning environments and expulsion for students when needed, while also monitoring impact on Black and Latino students.

Build best practice safety measures to adequately train our students and teachers, while also lessening the disruption caused by false safety alarms.

Restore confidence in safety amongst our community by showing parents, regardless of their race, that our schools are safe environments – so they can focus on academic success for their children.

We need Board members who can innovate, and collaborate to get this plan done.

Youngquist: My one goal requires the district to prioritize academic growth for all student demographic groups. This goal focuses on significantly increased growth for Black, Latina/o, and Indigenous students, as well as students with disabilities and children qualifying for free lunch. It requires all Denver students, combined, to achieve a median growth percentile (MGP) of 55, and each of the groups identified in this paragraph to represent growth of 60 MGP (significantly more than one grade-level growth in one year). This goal emphasizes the need for all students to produce strong academic results while closing the achievement gap between historically higher and lower performing students. I would provide oversight for this goal by requiring the school district to develop a student performance dashboard representing the data noted in this goal and other information related to the implementation of instructional efforts that advance the learning of our children.

District 1

Q: What do you see as the biggest issue facing your district today and how do you hope to have an impact on said issue as a school board member?

Baldermann: The biggest issue facing the district is declining enrollment. It is diverting funding away from classrooms across the district. The issue stems from declining birth rates beginning in 2014. When buildings are not efficiently utilized, class sizes increase, and funding goes toward duplicative administration. It also makes other programs and services, such as yellow bus transportation, more costly and less efficient. These inefficiencies inevitably lead to budget cuts across the district.

Sia: My top priority for the district is implementing initiatives related to student safety and well-being, including resources for social-emotional instruction, staffing mental health services at levels that meet the needs of all students, ensuring preventative measures such as the implementation of restorative practices are fully funded and staffed at every school, and ensuring safety protocols and priorities are fully implemented and monitored to measure success and identify gaps. Student academic outcomes will improve by focusing on mental health support, creating a sense of belonging within the school, and proactively addressing safety concerns. Student safety is of paramount importance and includes social and emotional safety in addition to physical safety.

Q: Enrollment in DPS is declining, and the school board voted this year to close three small schools. As a board member, would you vote to close schools with low enrollment?

Baldermann: Schools are the centers of our community, and we cannot take school closure lightly. No, I would not close a school due to low enrollment. That is a competitive market-driven approach with connections to standardized testing. It guarantees our marginalized communities shoulder the burden of declining enrollment. Too many underutilized schools mean funding is going to non-classroom expenses. I support thoughtfully merging schools in collaboration with the impacted neighborhoods. My solution is to pass a policy that caps class sizes and to thoughtfully merge schools in collaboration with impacted neighborhoods. This ensures students get the individualized attention they deserve and maximizes resources in the classroom.

Sia: Tough decisions need to be made regarding the consolidation of schools due to declining enrollment, and schools should be closed in certain circumstances. Decisions regarding school closures should be managed in a thoughtful, transparent manner and be made with our community. I would approach these decisions with a focus on ensuring the needs of all students are met, educators have the resources necessary to ensure students are thriving in school, and community voice is informing the decisions. Metrics would include the learning needs of students, social-emotional/mental health supports available at the school, elective/enrichment opportunities at the school, and multi-year financial projections for maintaining consistent student supports at the school.

Q: The school board reinstated police known as school resource officers, or SROs, in some DPS schools after a shooting inside East High this year. Do you agree with that decision? How should DPS ensure students are safe?

Baldermann: I drafted the policy to return School Resource Officers, which passed in June 2023. Yes, I support their return with an emphasis on SROs creating positive relationships with students and safety — not discipline that school administration can address. We must prioritize character development at an early age and provide more wrap-around services for students who get off track. We need the state and city to increase funding to help achieve this. In the case when a student is charged with a violent crime, the student should receive even more wrap-around services and place the student in an alternate learning environment such as attending class via zoom, online school, or one of the district’s pathway schools, so they continue their education and get back on track.

Sia: I agree with the board’s decision to reinstate school resource officers (SROs) in some DPS schools. SROs have the opportunity to be key members of the school community and should participate in school-based training related to school and staff culture, school safety measures, family and community engagement, and school procedures and expectations.

DPS should ensure students are safe by creating welcoming, supportive school environments and promoting a sense of belonging among all members of the community. This can be done by providing school staff training in restorative practices and the discipline ladder and matrix, providing robust mental health supports at each school that help identify and address potential risks and create a nurturing environment for students, and allocating resources to fund and staff social-emotional programming to ensure more robust preventative measures are in place at every school.

Q: DPS student test scores decreased during the pandemic and are now rebounding. But big gaps remain between white students and Black and Hispanic students. What should the district do to improve student achievement and close academic gaps?

Baldermann: Inequitable funding allocation and socioeconomic segregation inside and outside of schools are the sources of the achievement gap. Continuing to recruit and retain the BIPOC teachers and smaller class sizes must be the priority. The district must also overhaul the current voucher-like funding formulas where the funding follows the student. This leads to schools competing for kids and certain students getting left behind. The district must fund foundational programs, regardless of student count, to ensure programs for students with disabilities, multilingual learners, and students who qualify for free or reduced lunch are prioritized in funding models. We also need policies that move students with the greatest needs to the front of the line during the choice enrollment process.

Sia: To improve student achievement and close academic gaps, DPS should consistently review school-level data, broken down by student sub-groups, that shows how students perform academically and socially-emotionally. The Data MINE process, a shared accountability process to improve student outcomes, that DPS is implementing this year is a step in the right direction towards monitoring academic data and non-academic factors impacting student achievement. I would also suggest providing additional resources, financial and otherwise, to increase academic intervention and enrichment programming at schools, providing educators with consistent training, coaching, and relevant resources to ensure they can meet all academic levels and needs of students in their classrooms, and continued collaboration across all schools to examine best practices and discuss strategies for addressing challenges. Regular progress reports should be shared throughout the school year with the board and community to show areas of improvement and where there is still work to be done.

Q: The school board has rejected charter school applications in recent years, citing enrollment concerns. The board has also limited autonomy at innovation schools. Do you agree with the board’s approach or would you want to move in a different direction? Why?

Baldermann: I support the board’s current approach. I support certain autonomies of charters and innovation schools that truly support students. I do not support charter and innovation school waivers that are not innovative, such as stripping teachers’ grievance rights and removing their statutory right to earn tenure (non-probationary status) under the Colorado Teacher Employment Compensation Dismissal Act (TECDA). I also do not support waiving teacher licensure requirements at innovation and charter schools. 100% of teachers have their statutory rights back due to board policy EL-12.10, which I drafted and passed in 2022.

Sia: My approach to reviewing charter future applications would be based on making decisions informed by the Strategic Regional Analysis and needs of the community. If the application was created with community input, proposed for areas of the district where there is a need to expand the number of available seats to accommodate more students, and met the criteria identified through the Quality Authorizing Process developed by DPS, I would consider approving the application.

Autonomy in innovation schools is critical. I would protect the autonomies of innovation schools by ensuring any decisions or policies being considered by the board are not in contradiction to waivers held by the innovation schools or in violation of the state statute pertaining to innovation schools.

I support charter and innovation schools created with students, families, and educators because they provide an opportunity to shift school models to meet the specific needs of that community.

Q: Under current policy, the school board sets high-level goals for the district but leaves operational details to the superintendent. What’s one goal you would set and how would you provide oversight?

Baldermann: If students are not at school, we can not support them. Chronic absenteeism has spiked following COVID-19 and is a significant barrier to students reaching their full potential. Addressing chronic absenteeism is already a priority for the district. Still, I would elevate it to a board priority through an Ends Policy and make it a performance metric on the superintendent’s annual evaluation.

Sia: I would want to set a high-level goal for the district related to school safety. Ends Policy 1.4 (Health and Safety) currently has a limited focus on oversight of the school safety component of this Ends Policy and does not encompass comprehensive monitoring of the safety plan presented for the 2023-24 school year. I would expand the measures reported beyond the two currently included in Ends Policy 1.4 (out-of-school suspension rates and safety response times) and include monthly updates of discipline referral rates aligned to the discipline matrix broken down by student sub-groups, in- and out-of-school suspension rates broken down by student sub-groups, and the number/types of safety-related and proactive student well-being trainings completed by staff. I would also want to see the results of school safety audits and receive regular updates on supports/corrections made at schools not meeting all of the requirements of the audit.

District 5

Q: What do you see as the biggest issue facing your district today and how do you hope to have an impact on said issue as a school board member?

De La Rosa: Academic performance as it is reflected in the achievement gap is the biggest issue facing my district today. Denver has the largest achievement gap out of any city in the state and that is something that we cannot accept. Nearly one third of District 5 students are multi language learners and the district should take into consideration academic growth over time as well as meeting the specific learning needs of the whole child. I will ensure that we are reviewing academic growth, as well as performance. Also, making sure that we are providing the necessary resources for the whole child’s needs, including those learning challenges. We also have to make progress on identifying students that can be placed in advanced education classes.

Lindsay: During the more than 20+ school visits, I did in the past year, the major concern expressed by school leaders was how the pandemic had affected basic reading and math skills. As a school board member, I plan on making this a priority by identifying areas where resources are most needed and by continuing to visit schools and collaborate with teachers and parents. We need to close the achievement gap so our most marginalized students can succeed.

Slutzker: Addressing Declining Enrollment and School Closures: I would work to make sure school closures are well thought out and we are carefully reviewing what communities are being impacted and try and make those hard decisions as equitable as possible throughout the district.

Q: Enrollment in DPS is declining, and the school board voted this year to close three small schools. As a board member, would you vote to close schools with low enrollment?

De La Rosa: I believe there are multiple factors to review when making a decision to close a school with low enrollment. What will the projected enrollment be over the next few years and looking into how a school closure can impact a neighborhood, even if there is low enrollment. What options will the district be able to provide to support students, teachers and families if there is a need for school closure. Also we have to consider whether or not the district can accommodate new transportation needs if the Board decided to close a school. All of these questions need to be considered before deciding to close a school, and the board needs to engage in extensive and meaningful engagement with the entire school community well in advance to making a decision about a school closure.

Lindsay: Low enrollment should not be the major criteria in closing any school. Housing affordability is an issue that impacts our students, educators, and enrollment. Declining enrollment is a nationwide issue. We need to analyze how other cities are coping with this problem to come up with creative solutions that don’t solely impact the poorest residents. As a Board member I am willing to make tough decisions. It is devastating to hear the emotional outcries, but it would be my job to always do what’s in the best interest of DPS students. As a school board member, I support parent and teacher input to create better results for our students. We must make challenging decisions together.

Slutzker: This issue hits close to home as my children’s school is on the consolidation list. I believe we need to look at each situation under a microscope to determine the best path forward. Closing a school strictly based on low enrollment should not be on the table, but there will be times when schools may have to close due to financial realities.

Q: The school board reinstated police known as school resource officers, or SROs, in some DPS schools after a shooting inside East High this year. Do you agree with that decision? How should DPS ensure students are safe?

De La Rosa: I support the board’s current decision to return SRO’s to schools. DPS should continue to monitor a comprehensive safety plan to include early intervention to students’ social emotional health needs, building safety measures, cameras, access points, a Safe2Tell program, and regular safety training for staff, students and families. Monitoring the district’s revision of the discipline matrix to focus on early intervention and alternatives to citations for certain offenses. Review quarterly reports of citations to ensure there are no racial/ethnic disparities. DPS must ensure the entire school community is aware of the comprehensive safety plan, also to engage with the community so that parents know their kids are and feel as safe as possible. The current Board’s decision to hold a critical safety meeting behind the veil of Executive Session, as well as their decision to limit public comment, are simply wrong, and lead to less trust in our schools.

Lindsay: The safety of the teachers, children, and staff are my priority. I am proud to have led the vote to bring back School Resource Officers to the schools. The initial discussions were 6 to1opposed to permanently bringing back SRO’s. The final vote to bring them back was 4-3. My degree in criminal justice combined with my background as a family law attorney advocating for low-income children helps me look at all sides of the safety issue. I will work closely with DPS to monitor SROs to prevent abuses that have occurred in the past. I am a defender of the rights of students and recognize the disproportionate impact that policies have had on students of color.

Slutzker: If it continues to be funded by the mayor’s office I am open to partnering with SROs as long as they are well trained in the job expected of them. Generally I don’t believe they are the best resource towards keeping our students safe and would rather see money spent on mental health and social services.

Q: DPS student test scores decreased during the pandemic and are now rebounding. But big gaps remain between white students and Black and Hispanic students. What should the district do to improve student achievement and close academic gaps?

De La Rosa: One of my top priorities is to focus on student outcomes and specifically to address the achievement gap between white students and children of color as well as the gap between Free-Reduced Lunch and non Free-Reduced Lunch students. Board members must set policy for the Superintendent to identify best practices to improve math and reading achievement at the elementary level, that have been successfully implemented in districts with similar demographics as DPS, and to develop an implementation plan and annual goals for DPS. I would rather set a high bar for attainment, like 90% of K-3 students score at grade level and I would demand that the District disaggregate the data by income and ethnicity/race so we are honest with our community regarding our performance. The current board has spent far too much time arguing with each and far too little time helping out students succeed.

Lindsay: I believe changes have to be implemented in the accountability system to lower the reliance on standardized testing. DPS needs to change the focus of certain skills pertaining to the CMAS. Standardized testing has a discriminatory effect of Latino students who are not allowed to count scores of tests taken in Spanish, which are considerably higher than when the same students take the tests in English. If a college student’s achievement is measured by a passing grade in a class, then why shouldn’t the same be true for primary students? These tests are a way of labeling kids and setting them up not to achieve. Editor’s note: CMAS stands for Colorado Measures of Academic Success. CMAS tests are taken by Colorado students in grades 3 through 11 each spring.

Slutzker: Testing is just one small metric in determining student success and I don’t believe we should make impactful decisions based solely on that metric. We should be listening to our families and school staff and using their feedback to better determine whether or not our students are showing academic growth and what individual schools need to continue making strides forward.

Q: The school board has rejected charter school applications in recent years, citing enrollment concerns. The board has also limited autonomy at innovation schools. Do you agree with the board’s approach or would you want to move in a different direction? Why?

De La Rosa: ​​​​​​​​I would move in a different direction. In either instance, charter applications or innovation oversight, the board should first and foremost follow state law. Where the board has discretion, they should consider academic progress and growth and consistently apply data in their review of charter school applications and in their treatment of innovation schools. Every decision the board makes should lead to enhanced learning. The reality of learning loss due to the pandemic is unprecedented and requires creative, innovative and effective responses. I believe the board should act in the best interests of our students and educators and instruct the superintendent to allow innovation schools to utilize educator-supported flexibility to help students catch up academically.

Lindsay: All schools should have an equal role in assuring the positive success of our students, especially our students of color in Colorado. The Board of Education has an obligation to support our neighborhood schools and make sure they have the resources to meet the needs of students. We must add protections to strengthen the policy for the benefit of teachers working within innovation schools. According to survey results from the last vote, the majority of innovation schoolteachers wanted additional protections and I would support strengthening this policy so that all teachers be afforded the same rights. During my tenure on the Board, we have not voted to close any charter schools. Editor’s note: The board voted in January to close STRIVE Prep – Kepner, a charter middle school. Lindsay voted yes.

Slutzker: I do agree with the current approach as too many charters and innovation statuses have been granted exacerbating our declining enrollment issues. Clear consideration should be given to any charter school applications, particularly as to where they will be located and what other educational opportunities are currently available in those areas.

Q: Under current policy, the school board sets high-level goals for the district but leaves operational details to the superintendent. What’s one goal you would set and how would you provide oversight?

De La Rosa: Under the current policy structure, one goal I would set for the district is to enhance student engagement and wellbeing, both academically and emotionally. Given the challenges students have faced due to the pandemic, ensuring their holistic health is a top priority. This goal would include measurable metrics such as increased attendance rates, improved feedback from student wellbeing surveys, and an uptick in participation in extracurricular and school community activities. To provide oversight, I’d advocate for regular progress reports from the superintendent that detail the steps taken toward achieving this goal. These reports would need to be data-driven and disaggregated by school, grade level, and all other important demographics such as FRL and race. This way, the board can pinpoint where strategies are effective and where adjustments might be necessary. Additionally, I’d push for regular sessions where the school community can provide direct feedback to the board about their experiences. Editor’s note: FRL stands for Free and Reduced Price Lunch. Students qualify based on their family’s income.

Lindsay: My goal would be to prioritize testing to identify all children at the elementary school level for early intervention for individual factors such as highly giftedness, autism, dyslexia, ADHD, mental health, emotional and physical well-being. The purpose would be to better enable DPS to create services and programs to identify and highlight each student’s unique potential and/or prevent the escalation of behaviors that put students at risk as they progress through the school system.

Slutzker: I would support limiting class sizes to try and more equitably distribute resources across the district which would also help to limit teacher burnout and promote academic success for our students.

Melanie Asmar is a senior reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado, covering Denver Public Schools. Contact Melanie at

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.

Melanie Asmar has covered Denver Public Schools for Chalkbeat Colorado since 2015. Asmar previously worked at Westword newspaper in Denver and for a daily newspaper in New Hampshire, where she covered education. Chalkbeat is a nonprofit...