Board Facilities Town Hall Summary
Responses to the DLS community questions about the Gilpin application and process follow this brief meeting recap.
On Monday, November 13th, the Denver Language School Facilities Committee hosted a Town Hall and Webex to overview, discuss and answer questions about the school’s interest in moving middle school grades (6-8) into the Gilpin Facility (2949 California Street), and response to Denver Public School’s open search to place a school in Gilpin for the 2018-19 school year.
The Town Hall opened with a review of DLS’ school facility history and search. From the beginning, DLS has always had a vision of a one-campus, K-8 school. In 2010 DLS moved into Whiteman Elementary (DLS East), with the understanding that the school wasn’t large enough, or equipped, to handle a full K-8 program; Denver Public Schools agreed with this assessment. As DLS established itself and interest to attend the school grew, it became clear that the school would quickly outgrow Whiteman. The school Facilities Committee, led by the Board of Directors, began a search that included more than 50 sites, but a one-campus, K-8 facility wasn’t available. The Board eventually made two decisions: 1) temporarily reduce Kindergarten classes to one class per target language (2014-2015), and 2) lease space at Citypoint Church and begin a two campus operation (2015-2016). Nevertheless, the search for a more permanent facilities solution continued.
After this background, the presentation briefly reviewed information from the Oct. 11 Town Hall which detailed the upcoming Whiteman school expansion. The $2.9 million bond project will add five classrooms and a computer room above the north wing. This construction will begin in Summer 2018 and complete in December 2018. Two important points were raised during this discussion:
Per the terms of the $2.9 million bond that’s funding the Whiteman expansion, and once the construction is complete, Whiteman will be DLS’ K-5 campus. This means middle school will need a new location, and without other options, will most likely be Citypoint Church. The board and school acknowledged this is not ideal.
During the construction, the north wing of the school, which was added in 2013 and will be under the new addition, cannot be used. For safety and construction purposes those classrooms must be empty at the minimum August-December, but likely the entire 2018-19 school year. Because of the construction requirements, DLS will need to temporarily relocate 3rd grade at Citypoint Church, along with the K-2.
The Gilpin Opportunity
Taking all of this into consideration, including the long-term viability of the school and pedagogical programming behind the language immersion model, the Board and school administration submitted a proposal to DPS to house DLS-Middle School at Gilpin. This is a competitive process with six other schools also submitting proposals and competing for the facility. If selected, Gilpin immediately offers DLS more certainty and security with middle school, including:
A stable educational facility that enables DLS to expand and strengthen the middle school programming;
Larger classrooms, community spaces (including a larger gym, cafeteria, and auditorium), and outdoor areas for sports and recreation;
Opportunities to partner with the surrounding historic Gilpin neighborhoods.
The Application Process
DPS’ process is an open, competitive process based on academic performance, demonstrated facility need, and an emphasis on feedback from the Gilpin community. DLS feels the school meets all the required criteria, including those most important to the Gilpin neighborhood. DLS is confident we will receive serious consideration from the the district and Gilpin neighborhood.
There are a number of community meetings, then a phased recommendation process. The dates going forward for the DPS selection process are:
Nov 14-16: Individual interviews with applicants who pass pre-screening parameters
Nov 13 – Dec 11: Facility Placement Committee Process (5 DPS staff members, 2 community members from Gilpin neighborhood, 2 community members from broader Denver community)
Nov 18 and Dec 2: Applicant presentations to community
Dec 12: Facility Placement Committee Recommendation delivered to Superintendent
Dec 18: Superintendent's Recommendation to Board of Education at BOE Work Session Meeting.
Dec 21: Board of Education Decision
More information about the District’s process surrounding this facility decision can be found here.