Adams 14 finalizes 3-year contract with new manager

The backs of students as they walk through a hall at Adams City High School
Students walk down a hall at Adams City High School. The Adams 14 district signed a contract with TNTP to get outside help in improving schools. (Michael Ciaglo / Special to the Denver Post)

Adams 14 officials signed a $5 million, three-year contract with the school district’s new external manager, the New-York-based nonprofit TNTP.

The contract, effective July 1, will run through June 30, 2025.

TNTP, formerly known as The New Teacher Project, submitted the only response to a request for proposals from organizations to manage the district, as required by the state. Both the district and the nonprofit group spent months figuring out if they were the right match.

This is the second time the district has entered into an external management agreement to raise student achievement after years of low performance. 

The state in 2018 ordered the Adams 14 school district, north of Denver, to hand over management to a third party. The district signed a contract in 2019 with MGT Consulting, a for-profit based company, but that partnership fell apart this past school year. The district terminated the contract early in 2022. 

This time, the district proposed that the selected group would only be partial managers, citing among other things a lack of research backing full management by private or consultant groups. That means the superintendent and local board will keep more authority than they did under MGT. 

At the same time that the State Board of Education asked the district to hire a new manager, the board also ordered that Adams 14 reorganize — which may result in school closures or district dissolution. 

Under the contract approved by the school board last week, TNTP’s responsibilities fall under five categories. Among other things, they will be responsible for co-designing a strategic plan, coaching leaders, and conducting an analysis of the root causes of problems in the district, identifying priorities for improvement and giving the district recommendations.

TNTP also will be responsible for recommending new personnel policies to improve recruitment and retention and for recommending curriculum changes. 

Additionally, TNTP “will have authority … [over] hiring, firing, performance evaluations, compensation decisions, and other employment decisions,” as the district’s board delegated, according to the contract. TNTP will not oversee district day-to-day operations, the contract states.

Adams 14 school board member Maria Zubia said just before the vote that this contract was different from the last one with MGT, and that the board is looking for checks and balances.

To address a concern the school board had with the last manager, the contract will not allow TNTP to subcontract without prior district approval. If a subcontractor is doing the same work as TNTP is hired to do, the money already paid to TNTP must cover it. 

The contract lays out a proposed payment schedule for the $4,995,553 cost over three years. District and community leaders had raised concerns about the cost of the last management contract, in which MGT received more than $7 million in the first two school years. 

The cost to the district for this contract would be higher, but the Oak Foundation is subsidizing the services with a grant to TNTP. The contract doesn’t specify which services are covered by the grant or how large it is. A spokesperson for TNTP did not respond to a request for additional information. 

The contract allows the district or TNTP to end the contract for any reason. Good cause reasons to terminate the contract include a decrease in student performance on state tests, an increase in state ratings for two consecutive years — which would pull the district out of state oversight — the state changing its orders, or the district’s inability to pay. 

The district also will be able to renegotiate the cost and services, in case schools are closed and the amount of help required from TNTP changes. 

Read the full contract here:

Yesenia Robles is a reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado covering K-12 school districts and multilingual education. Contact Yesenia at yrobles@chalkbeat.org.

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