1) DPS Superintendent Cordova Resigns
At a suddenly-announced Zoom press conference called by the DPS Board on October 13, Superintendent Susana Cordova announced she has taken the job of Deputy Superintendent for Leading and Learning in Dallas. She wasn’t looking for a new job, she says, but Supt. Hinojosa in Dallas, who has been a mentor to her in the past few years, offered the job. “Never before have I felt I was in a position to step away from Denver, but now felt like the right time.”
Cordova said she’s proud of the work that supported more students graduating on time and taking more rigorous courses. She’s proud of the focus on equity and bringing courses like ethnic studies so students can see themselves in their reading. And she said, “I’m proud of the change in the tenor of the relationship that we have with our teachers and with our school leaders… [having] collaborative structures for multiple voices to have a place at the table in important decision making.”
In a follow-up press conference on Nov. 19, DPS Board members Olson and Bacon said Cordova’s departure date hasn’t been set and they have not yet selected an interim superintendent.
2) East Area Plan Approved Amidst Controversy
After three years of effort to create a vision for maintaining and enhancing the quality of life in four East Denver neighborhoods (East Colfax, Hale, Montclair, and South Park Hill), the Denver City Council approved the East Area Neighborhood Plan on Nov. 16. In creating the plan, wide agreement was found in many areas: more parks and community gathering spaces, better sidewalks, keeping small businesses along Colfax, improved drainage to prevent flooding, more transportation options. But ideas for how to create more affordable housing were controversial and polarizing, particularly how and whether single-family zoned areas should change to increase the number of housing units and what the maximum building height in areas of highest density should be.
East Area residents on the committee worked with City planners for three years to solicit input from a broad spectrum of residents and incorporate the feedback with the City’s previously established urban planning goals. When the recommendations went to the Planning Board, the Board deleted a sentence before sending it to City Council for approval: “Single unit areas should remain primarily single unit.” City Council put the sentence back in and approved the plan in a 12 to 1 vote. Representatives of East Colfax say they believe single family zoning perpetuates economic injustice.
3) Land at Northfield and Central Park Blvds. Sold for Apartments
A 26.92-acre vacant lot at the southeast corner of Central Park and Northfield Blvds. in Central Park (formerly Stapleton) has been sold to Mid-America Apartment Communities, a publicly traded real estate investment trust based in Memphis, TN, according to an article in MileHighCRE.com. Up to 1,000 units could be built on the property, according to a representative of the seller.
4) McAuliffe International School and Inspire Ele. Teacher Rachel Lamb Recognized for Excellence
McAuliffe International school was one of four Colorado schools to receive the National Blue Ribbon School award in 2020. The program honors public and private K-12 schools that are either academically superior in their state or that demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement.
Rachel Lamb, a second grade teacher at Inspire Elementary was one of two finalists in the 2021 Colorado Teacher of the Year competition. Lamb is known for lessons with real-world applications, technology, design thinking and project-based subjects, according to a DPS statement about her and quoting her: “It is an honor to my Navajo ancestors and the many innovators in my life. However, I don’t believe that it was necessarily I who has been selected, but my students and their tireless work. I am merely a vessel for their voices, creativity, and vision.”