Douglas County Public Schools reforms deliver good news

Book AppleReforms in Douglas County Public Schools appear to be having positive effects.

The school district that has been at the forefront of the news for reforms such as ending collective bargaining with its teachers, implementing a pay for performance program, and passing a school voucher program received two pieces of good news this week.

On Wednesday, the district released the results of a recent staff survey confirming the district has done a good job communicating its strategic priorities – safety, choice, world class education system, and system performance to its staff.

More than 75 percent of the respondents said they are empowered to take educated risks and 83 percent said their job makes them feel like they are part of something meaningful.

Only about half of the respondents said they would “highly recommend” working in Dougco. Chief Human Resources Officer Brian Cesare said in a news release that kind of feedback is important.

“We, as a District, are committed to retaining and attracting the best employees to DCSD,” Cesare said. “After deliberate discussion, we decided we wanted to ask if people would ‘highly’ recommend the District as opposed to just recommending. We set a high bar in everything we do and wanting our employees to be enthusiastic about our District is no exception. We are dedicated to making this a great place to work.”

Roughly 40 percent of the district’s employees participated in the survey in November 2015. Those who said they would not highly recommend employment cited salary and political tension as reasons while. Those who would highly recommend employment said “My profession is rewarding” and “This is a lot of work, but I love it.”

According to the release, surveys like this one provide “insight and guidance for strategic planning at both the district and school levels. The data from this winter’s surveys are expected to help in the planning of professional development, budget priorities and more.”

On Thursday, the district released numbers from the Colorado Department of Education showing 90 percent of Dougco students graduated on time, an increase of 1.1 percent over last year—and more than 13 percent above the state average. It is up from 81.9 percent in 2009, shortly after the reform majority took office.

Dougco’s graduation percentages are the highest in the state in school districts with more than 2,200 graduates. Dougco had 3,940 students graduate on time last year. In districts with more than 500 graduates only two districts scored higher (Boulder with 2,127 was 92.3 percent and Academy 20 with 1,773 was 90.2 percent). Most of the districts with a 90 percent or better were in districts with less than 100 graduates.

Compared to school districts of similar size, Dougco was far ahead. Denver Public Schools graduated 3,257 students or 64.8 percent and Jefferson County graduated 5,415 or 82.9 percent.

Dougco is the state’s third largest school district, is Accredited with Distinction, and educates more than 67,000 students.


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