Eight Years Later.........It's Still Too Darn Hot To Learn In Denver Public Schools

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August 28, 2019Eight years later.........it's still too darn hot to learn in Denver Public Schools.

This petition was started in August of 2011 by a small group of parents concerned for the well being of the students and teachers of Denver Public Schools.  At the time, our children were in elementary school.  Tom Boasberg was the superintendent and the board president was Mary Seawell.  DPS headquarters were at 900 Grant Street.  The 2012 DPS Bond & Mill Levy passage efforts were underway.  The average high temperature that August was 91 degrees — at the time one of the hottest months on record.

Now our children are in high school -- some have graduated and are in college.  DPS has a new superintendent and half the board are new members.  DPS has moved its headquarters to a beautifully renovated, fully air-conditioned building downtown.  Two bond & mill levy overrides have passed.  The average high temperature this August so far is 89 degrees — and this is no longer considered unusually warm.

Much has changed  — yet much is still the same.  Two hard truths remain obvious and consistent.  The first being the climate crisis is evident and temperatures will only increase in the coming years.  The second is that DPS leadership continues to ignore students, teachers, and parents.  They have not made the well-being of their students and teachers a top priority.

While we considered our initial petition efforts to push back the school year start date a small victory, the district’s response to push back the school year by only one week was mostly a symbolic gesture.  Given that the 4th week of August is, on average, warmer than the 3rd week, the one week push back was not a real solution. 

So here we are again — earnestly appealing to the DPS Board of Education and Superintendent Susana Cordova to change DPS's start date for the academic year to begin after Labor Day.

A later start date is only one component of the solution but it is the one that can be implemented immediately so our children and teachers will no longer suffer because of DPS's inaction.  A later start date doesn't require bond and mill levy overrides.  Since 2011, Denver voters have voted on - and passed - over one billion dollars in bond funding for improving our schools.  The district used heating mitigation as one of its top selling-points to voters, yet has only provided mitigation for 19 of the 79 schools needing it.  We believe when DPS touts “Students First,” it needs to be more than just words.

Power concedes nothing without a demand.  We say enough!  This has gone on long enough. More than enough schools are uninhabitable in August.  More than enough teachers are too hot to teach.  More than enough children are too hot to learn.  Our school year must start after Labor Day.

Make your voices heard!  We need your signatures and support right now.  Please share our petition - again - on Facebook, Twitter, email, etc..  Thank you!

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August 2011 - Since school has started, temperatures in Denver have been in the high 90's and most DPS classrooms have no air conditioning. It appears unlikely that future Augusts will be cooler.  There are reports of classroom temperatures reaching as high as 105 degrees, at times forcing classes to be held outside.  Not surprisingly, school offices are seeing significant increases in cases of heat exhaustion, dehydration and headaches.  In our discussion with teachers, most would certainly prefer a later start date and the corresponding improved classroom environment. We understand the pressures for higher test scores create a desire for more preparation time. But a comfortable learning environment should be an important consideration.  Are we getting much out of this advanced start time?  Hot and thirsty children do not learn particularly well.

We urge the DPS Board of Education and Superintendent Tom Boasberg to change DPS's start date in order for the academic year to begin after Labor Day.

Please make the physical well being of our children and optimal learning conditions a priority when considering school schedules.

UPDATE!!      

We’ve had some positive movement with our petition that we’d like to share with you.  After 3000 signatures from our petition were presented to the DPS Board of Education this September, the unbearable conditions inside DPS schools this last August became an issue that could no longer be ducked. Under this pressure, Superintendent Boasberg formed the Start Date Task Force.  This committee was made up of parents, teachers and community members.  They were asked to recommend a solution to the temperature problem and just recently, reported back to DPS with the results from a survey they had commissioned.  The results found a majority of parents, teachers and students favored a later school start date.

Today, we learned from local media, Superintendent Boasberg supports the Task Force’s recommendation of pushing back the school start day and will propose a change in the school schedule to the Board of Education. While this is encouraging news, it was also indicated that the start date might be pushed back only one week, not the two weeks for which we explicitly petitioned. Being that the 4th week of August, on average, is actually warmer than the 3rd week, we feel a one week push back is not a real solution.  Before the DPS BOE votes on this issue, let them know we want more than a symbolic gesture. We feel, if the well being of our kids and teachers is the top priority, school should start when the heat breaks, after Labor Day.  Please help us spread the word and gather more signatures for our final push. Pass along the petition via Facebook, twitter, email, etc.. Your support, your signature, making your voice heard……it matters.

Thank You

Question?  Comments? Please contact us at concerneddpsparents@me.com