1.) New innovation zone approved for NE Denver schools
In a unanimous vote at its June meeting, the Denver Board of Education approved a plan to allow four northeast Denver area schools to form an innovation zone. The innovation zone allows for considerably greater autonomy at the school level in terms of budget, curriculum and governance for the included schools, which are Swigert International School, McAuliffe International School, McAuliffe International at Manual and Northfield High School.
The newly formed innovation zone also has selected an executive director, Tomi Amos, who will take the helm August 1 as she transitions from a position with the Colorado Department of Education. She will report to an independent board of directors, which is accountable to DPS.
All four schools share an International Baccalaureate curriculum, which was part of what drove the effort to create the zone, according to Kurt Dennis, the principal of McAuliffe International School. Dennis helped craft the proposal for the innovation zone. It was approved by a vote of teachers at all four schools, who collectively supported the proposal at a rate of approximately 70%.
The Innovation Zone will have no effect on enrollment patterns, with all four schools remaining in their respective enrollment zones or boundaries. Instead, it provides a vertical alignment of curriculum and increased flexibility in budget and staffing. More detail on this change will be reported next month in the Front Porch.
2.) Meetings about Park Hill Golf Course
Arcis Equity Partners, LLC, the managers of the Park Hill Golf Course, announced in late June that they will exercise the five-year-renewal option on their golf course lease.
Clayton Early Learning, owners of the land, will finish the visioning process for the 155 acres, sharing a summary of all the input they have received, and giving community members one more opportunity to share their thoughts.
Meetings will be held on the following dates at Clayton Early Learning Campus, 3801 Martin Luther King Blvd:
- Tuesday, July 10—“Future Use of Park Hill Golf Course Visioning Process Community Forum,” 6pm–8pm
- Thursday, July 19—“Park Hill Golf Course Citizen’s Advisory Committee (PCAC) Meeting #13,” 6pm–8pm
Training Center Building L-3975, Meera Mani Room
3.) New business center with retail and child care coming to 40th and Central Park Blvd.
Plans for the Enterprise Business Center at Central Park Blvd. (CPB) and 40th Ave. were presented at the June Zoning and Planning committee meeting. in Stapleton. The center will have a Starbucks drive-through, a Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, a Cheba Hut serving toasted sandwiches, and an F45 Training fitness center. The biggest business in the project, however, is the New Horizons daycare center. The center will serve 376 children ages six weeks to five years. Courtney Schneider, a representative from the developer United Properties, said the daycare center aims to serve those working at the large nearby operations such as Breakthru Beverages and Frontier Fire, with opening expected in September. Construction is currently underway and the opening date for the remaining businesses is expected to be in the fourth quarter of this year.
4.) Car rental coming to north Stapleton
Also presented at Zoning and Planning were plans for an Enterprise car rental branch. While the Enterprise retail center is located at 40th and CPB, the new 2,300-square-foot Enterprise Rent-A-Car branch will be built at 5059 Beeler St. in north Stapleton. Toni Lucio-Lyons a representative from Enterprise, said the facility could support up to 47 vehicles and would include a car wash that uses biodegradable soap. The car rental location will not, however, include repair facilities. The branch is almost out of the design phase and slated to open in the first quarter of 2019.
5.) Wildlife Refuge gets funds for improvements
Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge received about $750,000 from the Department of the Interior for improvements that will enhance visitors’ experiences at the Refuge. The floating boardwalk at Lake Mary (visible above) will be replaced and the public restroom at Lake Ladora will be repaired or replaced. The bulk of the Dept. of Interior grant ($3.6 million) went to the National Black-footed Ferret (BFF) Center near Carr, Colorado, which is also a Fish and Wildlife facility.
All the black-footed ferrets being released in the country (including the ones at the Refuge) came from the BFF center, according to Refuge Manager Dave Lucas. He says the ferrets at the Refuge are doing so well, some of the wild-born ones at the Refuge will be transferred to Arizona this year.
6.) In Denver, scooters came, then went. What’s next?
It is said to be easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. The leadership of electric scooter sharing companies Limebike and Bird seemed to ascribe to this philosophy when they released hundreds of scooters in Denver without getting permits to do so.
The city of Denver doesn’t have a program in place for these dockless scooter-sharing services, but it does have regulations prohibiting companies from storing goods in the public right of way. Denver Public Works (DPW) said it collected over 260 scooters within two weeks of their surprise dispersal and began issuing citations to the operating companies.
On June 15, however, DPW Public Information Director, Nancy Kuhn, said in an email statement, “Denver Public Works notified Bird and LimeBike that we are intending to develop a pilot program that would allow for the operation of dockless mobility technology.”
While both companies still have to deal with the citations and confiscated scooters, they have the opportunity to work with the city to establish dockless transportation. In the meantime, DPW stated, “Limebike and Bird have again been asked to remove their scooters from the public right of way until the permit system is established.”
7.) Update on immigrant detention
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette met with media at the Denver Contract Detention Facility near 31st and Peoria on June 24 to talk about what she saw when she visited a “tender care” facility for young undocumented children in McAllen, TX. DeGette serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Office of Refugee Resettlement that is providing care for the children who have been separated from parents. She said she met with a man at the Aurora facility who found his son after a month of separation and another who does not know where his child is. She pointed out the logistical and bureaucratic issues that stand in the way of efforts to reunite the 2,000 families that remain separated. ICE assigns a number to the adults being processed in the criminal system and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR—under the Department of Health and Human Services) assigns a number to the children, but the two systems don’t communicate with each other. DeGette says ultimately all children will be reunited with their parents, even if genetic testing is needed. She says ankle monitoring devices that would cost just a few dollars a day would be preferable to building tent cites while immigrants are awaiting processing, as that method has been shown to be successful in the past.