DLS Gilpin Building Application
On October 16, 2017, Denver Public Schools announced the application process for schools interested in moving a secondary school into the former Gilpin Montessori School building at 2949 California Street. On November 10, 2017, Denver Language School submitted a response and application to move our middle school to this location.
On November 13, 2017, the DLS Board of Directors held a town hall meeting to discuss the application and answer questions from our community about this potential move.
During the Board Town Hall a number of questions were asked. These have been bundled by topic and organized below. If you have additional questions, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org, and the Committee will do its best to respond as quickly as possible.
First things first - if DLS isn’t awarded Gilpin
Q) Which grade levels will be at Whiteman (East) and which will be at Citypoint (West)?
A) During the construction at DLS East during SY 2018-19, K-3 will likely be at Citypoint (West) and grades 4-8 would be at Whiteman (East). In SY 2019-20, after the construction is complete and per the bond agreement, Citypoint (West) would house DLS-Middle School (grades 6-8), and Whiteman (East) would house K-5.
Q) Can DLS keep K-2 at Citypoint and the middle school at Whiteman?
A) Because of the 2016 bond requirements, we are required to have Whiteman as a K-5.
Application Process and Confidence Level
Q) How many schools have applied to Gilpin?
A) Seven schools applied, including DLS-Middle School. A full list of schools and a short description can be found here.
Q) Will DLS-Middle School share the campus with another school?
A) A co-location is a possibility. However, DPS has indicated that the top scoring school will have influence and say into if/who may share the Gilpin campus. As mentioned in the meeting, Gilpin is built to house 550-700 students. We anticipate the DLS middle school (grades 6-8) will be approximately 325-350 students at full-growth.
Q) How confident is DLS-Middle School that it will be awarded Gilpin?
A) DLS is confident that it meets all of the requirements set forth by DPS and the community in the call for New Quality Schools, and we diligently outlined this perfect match in our 72-page application. In addition, DLS is looking forward to the upcoming meetings, where we will have an opportunity to present our school to DPS and the Gilpin communities.
Q) Will DLS add more classes per grade if it moves into Gilpin?
A) There are no immediate plans to add more classes per grade, other than to accommodate the growing middle school.
Q) Will there be a DLS neighborhood preference if DLS-Middle School moves into Gilpin?
A) It is our current understanding the DPS and the Gilpin community do not want a school choice priority outside of our current ones. Those priorities include: siblings of current DLS students, students of DLS staff members, and Mayfair Park neighborhood residents.
Q) If DLS-Middle School is awarded Gilpin, will it continue to house students at Citypoint Church?
A) No. If DLS is awarded Gilpin, DLS will only run two campuses - Whiteman and Gilpin.
Transportation and Bell Schedules
Q) Will DLS continue to bus to Whiteman and add bussing to Gilpin?
A) Absolutely. We can’t predict what exactly a bus schedule or route would be, and it’s premature to start even considering such plans without knowing if we’ve secured the Gilpin facility. But, transportation is one of DLS’ strongest programs. As a charter school that pulls students from across Denver and the suburbs we work very hard to make the school accessible. We move 344 students across seven bus routes everyday, and the school subsidizes $100,000 to keep bus fees low. We see transportation as a staple in our academic and operational success.
Q) If awarded Gilpin, will bussing be made accessible to families and students in Southeast Denver?
A) Right now we have transportation options that move students from DLS East to DLS West, as well as from DLS West to DLS East, every morning and every afternoon. If awarded Gilpin, and if after assessing and speaking to parents using and wishing to use the busses, a bus schedule and route system will be built to meet the needs of as many families as possible. If the need and interest is there to service Southeast Denver every effort will be made to do so.
Q) Will bell schedules change between DLS East and Gilpin?
A) It’s premature to dive into scheduling. However, DLS East and DLS West have different start/stop and school schedules to account for bus travel time between campuses. If awarded Gilpin it’s highly likely a similar program will be put into place.
After-School and Middle School Sports Opportunities at Gilpin Location
Q) What after school opportunities are in the Gilpin neighborhood?
A) The Glenarm Rec Center and the Blair Caldwell are within walking distance Gilpin. In addition, DLS welcomes the opportunity to be part of the community and looks forward to participating in the community garden and other after school community activities.
Q) What are the middle school sports opportunities at Gilpin?
A) We understand that sports are important to middle school students, and we will continue to offer the same programming at Gilpin that we offer at Whiteman. Gilpin has a larger gym, more outdoor space, and a regulation basketball court outside. Like Whiteman, the facilities at Gilpin are not large enough to host games (i.e. volleyball games, Cross country meets) but they are excellent for practice and continuing to build our sports program.
What about Security at Gilpin?
Q) How will DLS-Middle School make Gilpin a safe school building?
A) As a DPS authorized charter, DLS submits and monitors all emergency plans, engages in emergency trainings, and trains staff on safety and security protocols. We will continue to use the same high standards to ensure a safe campus should we be placed in Gilpin. For example, DLS has invested in cameras, speakers and software at our current buildings, and we would invest any needed funds in a new building as well.
How does DLS fit into the Gilpin community vision?
Q) How does DLS fit into the Gilpin community vision?
A) DLS is a language and culture immersion school. Beyond being able to speak, read and write in Spanish or Mandarin Chinese, we teach our students the importance of cultural awareness and sensitivity. Curtis Park, Five Points and the surrounding neighborhood is one of Denver’s richest, and most culturally diverse communities and is a natural fit for DLS.
Q) The neighborhood has raised concerns about competing with other local schools for students. Is that something that should concern us?
A) Not at all. DLS is a charter school that participates in School Choice, so all our students are selected randomly and through a lottery. Also, after 1st grade, any student entering DLS must demonstrate language proficiency in Spanish or Mandarin Chinese.
What about the K-8 vision?
Q) Does DLS still hope to be a K-8 under one roof?
A) Yes. The founders, the Board, and many of our families would love to see DLS as a K-8 under one roof in a phenomenal facility. But with the lack of available land and construction costs, this is not a reality right now. We continue to look for opportunities, but consider a Whiteman/Gilpin two campus solution a fantastic opportunity.
How can families help?
Q) What can DLS families do to help in the selection process?
A) Channel your enthusiasm for this proposal to other DLS families. Spread the word and if asked to attend any of the upcoming meetings, please do. If you have any contacts within DPS, Curtis Park or Five Points, please let us know.
GILPIN COMMUNITY-SPECIFIC CONCERNS
City-wide draw for enrollment
Q) How can you ensure that DLS will not draw disproportionately from the Gilpin neighborhoods?
A) DLS participates in DPS School Choice with students coming from all over the District and beyond. Students applying for grades 2 through 8 are required to have academic Spanish or Mandarin Chinese language proficiency in order to be admitted. This pool of students is naturally small and a natural barrier to DLS drawing students disproportionately from neighborhood schools.
Q) How will your school’s transportation needs impact the Gilpin community?
A) As minimally as possible. We take our transportation program seriously. In fact, we have a staff person fully dedicated to keeping things running smoothly. We use the "PikMyKid" app to help gain efficiencies with pick up/drop off process, manage a carpool network, and are on a first name basis with DPS Transportation, Denver Police, and Denver Traffic Engineering. We’ve also triple checked and DLS-Middle School staff would fit within the Gilpin parking lot, and several of our teachers currently carpool or use public transportation.
Q) How are your current demographics representative of the neighborhoods surrounding Gilpin?
A) As Denver’s only tuition free, language immersion charter school, we naturally attract families with various cultural backgrounds, as well as families looking to learn from other cultures and share those perspectives with their children. The demographics for Five Points in 2015 was 64 percent white, 21 percent African American, 21 percent Latino with 5 percent representing ethnic groups from around the world. The 2016-17 DLS demographics were 51 percent white, 6 percent African American, 25 percent Latino with 18 percent representing ethnic groups from around the world.
Q) How will you engage with the Gilpin community?
A) DLS enjoys open interaction with the Mayfair Park neighborhood, which surrounds our Whiteman campus, and will pursue similar opportunities at Gilpin. Some examples of this engagement are: community garden, open communications with the neighborhood, restaurant night, and neighborhood clean-up days. Also, DLS has a number of non-parent community members on its Board of Directors. This is a conscious effort and is written into our Board Bylaws.
Q) What programs will you offer to the Gilpin community?
A) At Denver Language School, we are proud of our rich culture, cherish our diversity, and enjoy celebrating many international holidays and events with our community. These include Night Market, Chinese New Year, and Fiesta Hispánica. We also have several after school activities and events which keep the facility active after school hours, including sports, Community Education Nights, PTA sponsored events, Board of Directors meetings, and Town Halls.
Maintain current property features for community use
Q) Will you keep current gardens, playground, and playing fields intact and available for community use?
A) Absolutely. DLS understands and honors the importance of the playground, garden, and playing fields to the Gilpin community. It is already standard practice for DLS to leave the playground open for neighborhood use, grant the neighbors full access to the community garden, and allow community sports teams to use our campus regularly.
Q) What is your school’s track record? How can you ensure the community that your school will be a successful, quality addition to the neighborhood?
A) DLS, the brain child of 2 moms, opened with 220 students 8 years ago as a home-grown, grassroots immersion school. It has since grown to approximately 750 students, graduated its first 8th grade class last year, and makes marked improvements every year. Test scores and SPF ratings only tell part of our story. Our increasing Middle School retention rates and consistent waitlist show the continued demand for DLS.
Q) What before and after school programs do you offer?
A) DLS opens its doors 30 minutes before first bell, offering free breakfast to all students. After school, there is a wide variety of fun club options for students to participate in. Kaleidoscope Corner/Discovery Link is the after school care program offered at the school until 6:00 pm. Our bus also has a stop at the Boys & Girls Club, an affordable, safe after school option until 9:00 pm.
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