Superintendent of Denver Public Schools

2 days left

Denver Public Schools
Denver, Colorado
Mar 13, 2021
Apr 12, 2021
Focus Areas
Position Type
Full Time

About Denver Public Schools

Denver Public Schools is a large, diverse urban school district with more than 90,000 students in 207 schools and over 14,000 employees. We are very proud of our diversity and believe it is one of our greatest strengths. Students of color comprise the majority of DPS’ ethnically and culturally rich student population, which includes 52% Latinx, 13.8% Black, 3.2% Asian, 0.7% Native American, 4% multi-ethnic and 25.6% white students. Sixty-one percent of students come from families that qualify for free- and reduced-price lunch benefits, and 36.3% are identified as English language learners, with more than 160 languages spoken at home. Please read the Board Overview Statement for more information about our district and the search for our next superintendent.

About the Superintendent Role

The superintendent will serve as the Chief Executive Officer of Denver Public Schools. The role reports directly to the Board of Education. The superintendent for DPS will enter the district at a critical time as the district works to recover from a pandemic, deepen its equity work on behalf of students, and ensure a strong system of schools ready to meet the needs of every student, in every neighborhood.

Core Leadership Responsibilities

While the district has advanced progress and growth over the past decade, key challenges remain and must be addressed by the district, superintendent and board. The next superintendent should possess the vision and leadership skills necessary to build on our successes to date and tackle the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Key leadership responsibilities for our next superintendent include the following:

Ensuring Access to Deep and Rich Learning:

The mission of the Denver Public Schools is to provide all students the opportunity to achieve the knowledge and skills necessary to become contributing citizens in our diverse society. We are committed to supporting brighter futures for all students. Following are some key facets in our shared vision that our next superintendent will lead:

  • Accelerate learning and raise expectations for every student: increase student achievement and teacher development through precise, individualized professional learning aligned with achievement goals.
  • Adopt instructional models and structures: based on practices that are research based, culturally responsive and demonstrated to be effective; strengthen collaboration with parents to enhance learning for their own children and all children.
  • Invest Early: while we have seen significant gains in early literacy among our students, we continue to have a large opportunity gap. We know how vitally important it is that we invest in our youngest students with a particular focus on ensuring that all our students learn to read confidently by third grade.
  • Address Institutional Racism and Other ‘-isms’: confront through analysis, action, and anti-racism, how the district is dealing with race, culture and language diversity in addressing systemic inequities that persist in order to improve the experience of students, teachers, and families of color at DPS.
  • Support Multilingual Learners and Students with Disabilities: honor the district’s implementation of the Consent Decree, support dual language programs and the Seal of Biliteracy, and continue to ensure the protection and welcoming embrace for our immigrant and refugee students and families. Also focus deeply on advancing the growth and support of our students with disabilities.
  • Prepare our Students for Career and College: we aim for every student to graduate from high school being college and career ready, and must prepare them to meet the state’s newly developed graduation requirements. We are developing innovative approaches to better prepare our students for college and career, including early college models, expanded concurrent enrollment opportunities, and new apprenticeship roles through our CareerConnect program.

Recovering from the Pandemic:

  • After the COVID 19 pandemic made it necessary to shift all of our schools to remote learning in March 2020, we took the spring and summer to establish crisis priorities. The Crisis Priorities formed the focus of our governance team and DPS for the 2019-2020 school year and through January.
  • Now that we are transitioning out of the pandemic the board has approved a set of Transition Priorities which will guide our future work. While the new superintendent will need to carry out these priorities, she/he is also charged with leveraging the transformative work that this crisis has afforded the district.

Engaging our Communities as Partners:

  • Work meaningfully with communities across the city to inform, problem-solve, establish partnership and shared ownership of the district.
  • Expand and strengthen community involvement and partnerships, fostering ownership and shared responsibility; increase dialog and cooperation with key local, state and national groups and organizations; provide environments that optimize learning and teaching and are safe, secure and well-maintained.
  • Act as liaison between the District and the community, other school districts, CDE, colleges and universities, and the US Dept. of Education. Assume responsibility for effective public relations and for creating a cooperative working relationship between the schools and the community and our local government.
  • Our relationships with employee associations in the district are important.  Denver Public Schools has agreements with 10 employee associations.  Information about all DPS employee groups can be found here.

Supporting a Diverse System of Schools:

  • Support and encourage collaboration and learning across the district’s family of schools with the belief that “we are better together.” We must work together to ensure the ongoing support and evaluation of the successful implementation of our district-run schools and charter schools, including our innovation schools and zones.
  • Provide ample, relevant, and ongoing professional development and learning support for teachers and school leaders; create and nurture structures that allow for collaborative learning across schools and regions. 

Support a Thriving Workforce:

  • We know that our most important factor in closing opportunity gaps is to attract, retain and develop our school leaders and teachers, especially in our highest-poverty schools. We must continue to support strong leadership development programs – of both school leaders and teacher leaders – and we are fully committed to investing in the growth and development of our educators.
  • Recruit, retain, develop and inspire highly effective staff at every layer of the organization, with a particular emphasis on diversity, fair and equitable compensation, and the implementation of culturally-responsive education practices.
  • Create the conditions where staff can collaborate, feel supported and able do their best work on behalf of the students they serve.

Stewardship During a Time of Declining Population of School-aged Children:

  • After years of dramatic enrollment growth, the city of Denver is beginning to experience a decline in the number of school-aged children, with gentrification affecting many areas of the city. We know how important it is to be proactive in the face of rising housing prices and gentrification in order to promote greater school integration and support our families and communities. We must conduct regional planning rooted in a deep understanding of our communities in order to address access to quality schools and aligned choice and transportation options. In addition, the district has ongoing challenges with the insufficiency of state funding in a state that underfunds its public schools.  We will need to address some structural deficits in our budget in the years ahead. We must also focus on financial stewardship and strong communication and change management strategies.

Checking Progress and Holding Ourselves Accountable:

  • School Performance Compact (SPC) - We are committed to reassessing and clarifying the objectives and tactics of the School Performance Compact policy, which governs how the district evaluates school performance and manages intervention strategies like turnaround and restart.
  • Quality School Measures - The Reimagine School Performance Framework (SPF) committee recommendations highlight a new way to examine school performance and accountability, measuring not only academic data but also other aspects of schooling such as students’ social and emotional well-being, and the climate and culture of schools. Through the work of this committee, we learned that our community also values a focus on school improvement and leveraging authentic partnerships with schools, the district, and the community to help schools improve and take a shared responsibility approach for supporting school improvement and success. As a result, we officially transitioned to the state performance framework in 2020, and are looking forward to exploring new ways to ensure educational equity in DPS.
  • Transparency - We want to continue to assure financial transparency through the publication of our budget transparency guidebook, which provides insight into the goals, values, and strategies that guide our financial decisions.

Partnering Effectively with the Board:

  • The Board of Education values a collaborative relationship with the Superintendent to create the best outcomes for our students. To that end, we are receiving training in policy governance from the Colorado Association of School Boards.  We also want to create a smooth and efficient transition for the next board that will be elected in November 2021. 
  • Develop long-range plans, aligned with the board’s predefined goals, vision and priorities, consistent with population trends, community growth, cultural needs, and appropriate use of district resources.  Assume administrative responsibility, accountability and leadership in order to achieve the board’s goals.
  • Communicate and collaborate with all members of the board, keeping the board up-to-date on developments, initiatives and issues in the district; provide leadership to enable the board to function effectively.
  • Monitor and provide recommendations for district administrative policies to be approved by the board. The Board of Education will create a separate set of board policies including Goals, Executive Limitations, Board Means and Superintendent Delegation per the Carver Model of Policy Governance.
  • Prepare and submit to the board a proposed annual budget reflecting the board’s defined goals, vision and priorities. 
  • Provide the board with accurate and timely information that enables the board to appropriately perform its monitoring function.

Leading an Effective District Team:

  • Support a collaborative learning culture based on trust, compassion and mutual respect.
  • Manage the day-to-day operations of the district within the policy parameters adopted by the board, assuming responsibility and authority for the planning, operation, supervision, assignment, and evaluation of the programs, services, staff, students and facilities of the district.
  • Direct the identification of funding opportunities that enhance DPS revenues through grants and legislation.
  • Make recommendations regarding selection or termination of the district’s staff, consistent with laws of the state and district policy.

Leadership Skills, Values and Competencies: Leading our school system effectively will require several core skills that will drive our recruitment and screening efforts:

Racial-Equity Lens

  • Lead with a strong racial equity lens deeply rooted in understanding the systemically oppressed, and how systemic racism has led to inequitable access to opportunities and resources for our students.
  • Recognize race and power dynamics playing out within our organization at all levels and interrupt those inequities through honest and difficult conversations and actions.
  • Address matters of equity, race, and bias in decision-making with clarity, confidence, openness, empathy and historical context.
  • Build authentic relationships across lines of difference (race, ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic background, LGBTQ status, etc.) through self-reflection, empathy, and a clear personal identity.
  • Understand the one-hundred plus year history of Denver Public Schools and the City of Denver as a whole.

Community-Centered Leadership

  • Honor the voice of community members to help inform and drive key district decisions.
  • Seek out the voices of marginalized communities to ensure well-rounded and diverse input on key district-level decisions.
  • Ensure that the individuals with the most at stake for key district-level decisions have a say before decisions are made.
  • Commit to transparency in decision-making, sharing back what was learned from stakeholders and how their perspective helped guide the district’s decisions.

Effective Relationship Builder and Communicator

  • Serve as an ambassador for DPS students, building effective relationships with city and state leaders, helping to tell the story of DPS’s successes, and successfully advocating when needed to ensure that the district is able to meet students’ needs.
  • Push back thoughtfully when needed to avoid distraction from core priorities and goals in the better interest of student success.
  • Build trust among board members, district staff, teachers, and leaders, and core stakeholders to establish a shared vision for the district.
  • Communicate effectively, tailoring messages for the audience, context, and mode of communication.
  • Listen compassionately with an open mind - seeking to fully understand community members and stakeholders perspectives before establishing the direction forward.
  • Navigate politically complex structures, relationships and dynamics to challenge ideas and enable thoughtful decisions and positive outcomes for students.

Visionary Capacity Builder    

  • Commit to utilizing a process of continuous inquiry and improvement, and to communicating results honestly and collaboratively executing corresponding next steps.
  • Consider critical feedback without being deterred or taken off-track of key organizational priorities.
  • Lead the organization through strategic planning and stay focused on core vision, goals and priorities.
  • Foster conditions for organizational learning.

Team Leadership

  • Build, inspire, manage and coach effective teams to achieve ambitious goals.
  • Assess team and individuals’ skills, identify development needs, and provide feedback and supports to improve practice, build capacity, and maximize talent.
  • Promote professional learning and utilize effective adult learning techniques.
  • Lead teams to collaborate with each other and with other stakeholders, including parents and families.

Education & Experience

  • Proven skills and experience in strategic planning, communicating a vision and goals to others, and effectively implementing action plans throughout an organization utilizing “out-of-the-box” thinking.  Skillful positive force within the District, government and community.
  • Demonstrated record of success with fiscal accountability and data-driven decision-making.
  • Proven highly developed accounting and budgeting skills; advanced ability to collect, analyze and interpret data.
  • Successful experience working in diverse economic, multicultural, and multilingual communities and environments. Proven cultural-competence skills with a history of inclusive and relevant equity practices.
  • Advanced written, verbal, and listening skills in English.
  • Experience and proficiency with Microsoft Office products (e.g. Excel, Word, and PowerPoint).
  • Bilingual skills in Spanish preferred.

Knowledge & Other Qualifications

  • Commitment and willingness to be a relentless and passionate advocate for all children.
  • Advanced knowledge of public school policy, procedures and management. Thorough understanding of national, state and local educational goals and standards required to advance K-12 public education.
  • Current knowledge of best practices, continuous improvement strategies and high expectations for performance; commitment to maintaining high standards and increasing accountability for results at all levels.
  • Ability to deliver high-energy and inspirational leadership, displaying vision, self-confidence, integrity and calculated risk-taking.
  • Track record of successfully managing a highly competent team to oversee daily operations and finances.
  • Proven abilities in the areas of public relations, project facilitation, team management, decision-making and collaboration.
  • Demonstrated track record as a culturally responsive leader. Bilingual proficiency, a plus.

Benefits & Compensation

Salary is competitive, and commensurate with prior experience. In addition, a comprehensive benefits package is included. We look forward to discussing details with you as the interview process progresses.