DPS SchoolChoice plan set to go

The Denver Public Schools’ new streamlined “one form, one timeline, all schools” enrollment system now has the participation of every charter school in the district.

The system, which the district is branding as SchoolChoice, will replace what DPS said was a welter of more than 60 different enrollment and wait-list processes and is designed to eliminate confusion and ensure equity in district-wide enrollment.

“For too long, this process has been a cumbersome one for families,” Superintendent Tom Boasberg stated in his current newsletter. “We needed to do a better job of making the process of selecting a school simple, user-friendly and fair; SchoolChoice does just that by condensing the process down to one piece of paper and one timeline.”

DPS spokesman Mike Vaughn added, “A family’s first choice should always be the school in their neighborhood, but if that’s not the right fit, we want to create a simple and equitable support system to help those families find and enroll in the school that’s best for their child.”

Until recently it was uncertain whether all of the 35 charter schools in the DPS system would take part in SchoolChoice. The district now has a commitment from every charter to participate.

SchoolChoice is being implemented with outreach support led by the nonprofit Get Smart Schools, which is coordinating a coalition of community organizations that will assist in efforts to publicize the new enrollment program.

Under SchoolChoice, families of children in the transitional years – those entering kindergarten and those in fifth and eighth grades – will be asked to complete a form no later than Jan. 31, listing five schools in exact order of preference. The district will endeavor to place each student in his or her highest-listed preferred school, and every child will be guaranteed a seat at their neighborhood school.

DPS has revised its enrollment guides to include detailed profiles of every school and has translated them into Spanish, Vietnamese and Arabic. They are being distributed to every transition-grade student, with extra copies available at every school.

The outreach effort is seen as critical to introducing the new enrollment process to district parents, as there are 137 languages and dialects spoken in the district. The top seven are English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, Karen, Burmese and Somali.

The district is hosting five SchoolChoice informational expos in the first two weeks of December. Here’s the schedule:

  • Far Northeast Denver Regional School Expo – Dec. 3, 10 a.m. – noon; Evie Dennis Campus
  • Southeast Denver Regional School Expo – Dec. 3, 10 a.m. – noon; Merrill Middle School
  • Southwest Denver Regional School Expo – Dec. 3, 9 – 11 a.m.; Lincoln High School
  • Near Northeast Denver Regional School Expo – Dec. 6, 6-8 p.m.; Bruce Randolph Middle/High School
  • Northwest Denver Regional School Expo – Dec 10, 9-11 a.m.; North High School

SchoolChoice forms will be available on Dec. 1 at any DPS school or online. They can be turned in at any school or at the DPS administration building, 900 Grant St.