Next year, parents, guardians and interested parties can look forward to the revival of a joint Denver Public School and City Council committee that seeks to open communication between the two entities and ultimately present some beneficial ideas for students.
On Monday, City Council approved the reactivation and revision of the City-School Coordinating Committee, a group that hasn’t met since 2011.
Back in the late 1930s, the committee was created and placed into the city charter as a means to bridge the gap between city officials and DPS. Both entities are separate governing bodies, so the ordinance sought to create a space for communication and collaboration.
The revival of the group and revision to the ordinance, led by Councilmembers Amanda Sandoval and Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, was met with some hesitation initially by DPS but Gonzales-Gutierrez said ultimately, the two entities came to a consensus.
The changes to the ordinance included making the group consist of 10 members as opposed to 14. Initially the councilmembers proposed a nine person group but DPS was concerned that the “power balance” would be off. Now the group will have an equal number of city and DPS representatives.
The group will feature the mayor, DPS superintendent and director of the city’s Office of Children’s Affairs. They can either serve or appoint someone to represent their offices. The rest of the committee will be two city council members, two DPS board members, a parent or student chosen by council, and either an educator or administrator chosen by DPS to fill the final two spots.
Some other changes to the ordinance include meeting times and the creation of bylaws. The group will meet every two months instead of quarterly and the bylaws will be created by the group during their first meeting. Attendance isn’t mandatory and the group will not be creating any policies.
Gonzales-Gutierrez said the group’s first meeting will occur no later than the end of March. That first meeting will be an introductory one where members will choose co-chairs, again create bylaws and make plans for future discussions. All of the meetings will be open to the public.
Gonzales-Gutierrez said she looks forward to the group’s discussions on how the city and DPS can better help Denver students. She pointed to numerous topics the committee could be discussing right now, such as the migrant community and the number of migrant children enrolling within DPS.
“One very clear need right now is migrant services,” Gonzales-Gutierrez said. “We have families who have children that are attending DPS schools right now and some of them are living on the street in tents. That is a clear opportunity, if that committee was already meeting right now, for them to say we need to figure this out together, city and school board. We need to figure out how we’re going to serve our community.”
Ultimately, Gonzales-Gutierrez said the revival of the committee opens the door for better communication between the two groups and will hopefully lead to changes.
“I’m hoping that we can address the mental health of our students,” Gonzales-Gutierrez said. “That we can help support our educators more. That if there are things that the school district needs from the city, that they can be able to bring those to our attention to tell us. Talk to us about what your families are experiencing when it comes to housing. Talk to us about what your families are experiencing when it comes to food access. Those kinds of conversations I think would be great to be able to have.”