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A look at Central Park schools in 2023-24

Here are some changes and happenings at Central Park schools in the 2023-2024 school year that formally begins for most students Monday, Aug. 21.

CMAS results coming

 Every spring Colorado schools administer tests in literacy and math in grades 3 through 8 called the Colorado Measures of Academic Success or CMAS. Schools also give tests in science and social studies but to a much smaller cohort of students. High school students take the PSAT and SAT.

The results from CMAS tests taken this past spring will be released by the state Department of Education Thursday (Aug. 17). will highlight results for Central Park schools in its Aug. 21 Weekly News Roundup.

Parents can get their children’s CMAS results from their schools or districts to better understand their students’ strengths and weaknesses.

The tests are used by the education department to rate schools and districts, known as the School Performance Framework, which allows the state to provide extra help in areas of lower performance. The system uses standardized test results, graduation and dropout rates, college enrollment and other factors to rate schools and districts. The state’s school accountability system was sidelined during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is scheduled to resume this year.


Overall, schools in Central Park boost healthy enrollments. Click here for our June 6 story on CP’s enrollment that includes information on the choice process.

Also in June we reported on the demographics for 14 Central Park traditional and charter public schools.  Enrollment increased by 1,852 from 2018 to 2023 or on average 370 more students per year.

Central Park enrollment in 2022-23: 9,643 which is just shy of 11% of the total enrollment of Denver Public Schools. Click here for CPENews story on CP school demographics.

As CPENews reported in June:

“While enrollment has declined in other parts of Denver, Central Park schools remain stable with some likely to boost enrollment in the coming year, according to results of the first round of the annual choice process that ended April 28.

(Editor’s note: official enrollments for 2023-24 will be available later this fall after the state’s “October Count Day” now scheduled for Oct. 2 which the state uses to determine school funding.)

In particular, Isabella Bird Community School is reversing a five-year downward trend by enrolling 30% more kindergarteners than it had this year – up to 95 from 69. Eighty-six in 2018-19 was the previous high for kindergarten.

The initial projection for kinder was 70 so the higher numbers mean an additional teacher and four K classrooms.”

And in March we noted about the school known fondly as Izzi B:

“Over the past five years, the elementary school near the southeastern border of Central Park has lost 110 students. This year (2022-23) Izzi B (aka Isabella Bird Community School) had 414 students.

Several factors account for the decline, from leadership turnover every two years since opening in 2014, to losing dozens of refugee children from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, to a slight drop in its district rating and an inconsistent school culture.

But energetic efforts on the academic, leadership and marketing fronts have school and parent leaders riding a wave of optimism for the next school year.”

Denver Green School Northfield is on a roll, too. As CPENews reported in March:

“With the first round of choice enrollment that ended late last month, 103 more rising sixth graders want to be DGS-N Goats next year than the school can handle.

By comparison, McAuliffe International, the area’s other main district middle school, had 391 apply for sixth grade and can take up to 510, said Principal Kurt Dennis. But he expects a full cohort of sixth graders in the fall with students who did not get their first school during the initial round of choice.

Parents and school leaders credit DGS-N’s expeditionary learning-type program and a caring culture for its great appeal in only its second year with all three grades – 6th to 8th. The school expects much of teachers and in return gives them the freedom to develop their own curriculums aligned with state standards.

Teachers apparently appreciate the freedom. One hundred percent of the faculty is returning next year, which is not the norm – retaining 70% to 80% of a staff is considered a good retention rate.”

School leadership changes

Jason Sanders has taken over as principal of Bill Roberts from founding principal, Trich Lea, who retired in June after 19 years at the K-8 school.

The school wrote in a May 30 letter to the community:

“We are excited to announce that Mr. Jason Sanders has been selected as the next long-term leader at Bill Roberts K-8 for the 2023-2024 school year and beyond.

We are confident Principal Sanders will continue to build upon the many strengths of Bill Roberts and that he will carry on and expand Bill Roberts foundation of success for students.

As shared in his bio, “Professionally, I have been fortunate to work with students of all ages and in various capacities– as a case manager at an alternative high school/shelter for homeless teens, as a counselor working for a program focused on drug, gang and violence prevention, a special educator and as a school administrator. I have loved each and every spot that I have landed! My favorite thing about each role has remained the same– the kids.

As a leader, students are my main focus. My aim is to help build a school community that is student-centered, rigorous, inclusive, fun and balanced — all with the overarching focus on equity.”

Since school ended in June, Central Park unexpectedly has two schools with new leaders who are taking over in a hasty and hectic way.

At Northfield High School, the current principal, Amy Bringedahl, plans to retire at the end of the 2023-24 school year. In February, the school announced that Jessica Rodriquez Bracey, who is currently a principal resident at Northfield, would serve as co-principal with Bringedahl to provide her with guidance and support in an apprentice-type of arrangement.

Bringedahl has been principal since 2016 during Northfield’s first year. At the time there were 200 freshmen in the augural class. This year NHS expects 2,100 students. A wait list is in the range of 400.

The transition plan was scuttled after Bringedahl was assigned earlier this month to be interim principal at McAuliffe International following the firing of Kurt Dennis in July. An assistant McAuliffe principal, Micah Klaver, was initially made interim principal but was put on administrative leave during a district investigation into the use of a de-escalation room for disruptive students.

Bringedahl has said that while she cannot regularly be at Northfield, she will continue in her mentor role with Rodriquez Bracey.

Denver Discovery closed, Swigert triples ECE rooms and Kinder grows.

The closure of Denver Discovery School at the end of the 2022-23 school year will allow Swigert International, which shares the building with DDS, to triple its early childhood slots next year from 20 to 60 or a total of three classrooms, CPENews reported in April.

In addition, Swigert Principal Shelby Dennis says she wants to add another three rooms, for a total of six, in the coming years. She is  unsure about how many she can add in 2024-25; waiting for the final go ahead from the district.

In addition, with the new space, Swigert will add a classroom for kindergarten, first and second grades. By the 2024-25 school year, it expects to have four classrooms for every grade.

Swigert’s enrollment is expected to eventually increase to 700 from its current 565, Dennis says.

Demand for ECE space has consistently outpaced supply in Central Park. This jump in openings will help address that, as well as let Dennis recruit outside Central Park to achieve more diversity of students in the school at 35th Avenue and Syracuse Street.

(The Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities produces CPENews and supports many Central Park public schools with grants for education programming).

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