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News Release - State Board approves detailed directions for Adams 14 School District

Nov. 27, 2018

State Board approves detailed directions for Adams 14 School District

Details also finalized for two Pueblo City schools

DENVER - The Colorado State Board of Education on Wednesday approved a detailed written order (PDF) directing Adams 14 School District to turn over all formal, decision-making authority involved in management of the district to an outside management organization. 

The management organization’s duties will include implementing an instructional program that incorporates curriculum, local assessments, scheduling and any necessary professional development for educators. The organization, which can be a public or private entity, will also be responsible for recruiting and retaining staff, coordinating community engagement efforts, supporting the local school board, recommending changes to the contract between teachers and the district, and recommending additional management operators for individual schools if needed.

"Ultimately, this management organization will be responsible for ensuring rapid and dramatic improvements for the students and families in Adams 14 School District,” said Commissioner Katy Anthes. “We are hopeful that the community can come together, listen to each other and work to ensure all students have access to a high quality education.”

While the Adams 14 School District Board of Education will have the responsibility to select the management organization, the state board’s order requires the organization to have a research-based approach and a proven track record of working with schools and districts in similar situations. The state board also required the local board to involve community stakeholders in the selection process. 

The Adams 14 Board of Education has 90 days, until Feb. 25, to select a management organization for the State Board of Education’s approval.  The local board will then have 30 days to create and sign a contract with the management organization to begin no later than July 1, 2019 and last a minimum of four years. In addition to supporting the local school board in selecting a management entity, CDE will review the contract to make sure it meets the state board’s requirements to empower the entity to make key decisions designed to improve the quality of education for students.

If the local board does not meet the requirements in the state board’s order, the state board has the statutory authority to remove the district’s accreditation and begin a reorganization process for the district that could potentially result in altering the district’s boundaries or dissolving the district altogether.

The state board’s order is designed to spur dramatic improvement at the 13-school, 7,500-student district in Commerce City. Adams 14, along with the district’s high school, has received the lowest two ratings -- Priority Improvement or Turnaround -- in the state’s accountability system for eight straight years, requiring intervention by the State Board of Education under state law.

The ratings are the result of student achievement on tests, academic growth and postsecondary measures, such as graduation rates, dropout rates, college matriculation and scores on college entrance exams.

In 2017, facing similar low marks, the state board directed Adams 14 to partner with an external organization to help improve teaching and learning. Beyond Textbooks, an Arizona nonprofit, was chosen. But the district again received a rating of Priority Improvement for 2018, setting up additional action by the state board. 

On Nov. 14, the state board heard from Adams 14 district leaders, who brought forward a plan for external management. The board considered public testimony, including emails and letters, from the community. And it considered the recommendation from a state review panel, an independent entity that reviewed the district and concluded that full management is the appropriate accountability action.

State board approves next steps for two Pueblo City schools

The State Board of Education approved a detailed written order (PDF) directing the Pueblo City Schools Board of Education to hire a management organization for Heroes Middle School and Risley International Academy of Innovation. The public or private entity will report to the local school board and have authority over building-level recruitment and selection of staff, professional development, curriculum, school climate and the school budget. The management organization is also tasked with identifying needs for additional consulting or professional services and implementing the innovation plan previously adopted by the local board.

Similar to the order for Adams 14, the Pueblo City Schools board must select a management organization that has a research-based approach and a proven track record of successfully working with schools. The Pueblo board also has until Feb. 25 to select its management organization. After the State Board of Education approves the selection, the local board has 30 days to enter into a contract, with work to begin by July 1, 2019. 

If the Pueblo City Schools does not meet the requirements of the state board’s order, the state board has the statutory authority to close either school or convert them to charter schools.