How DPS is spending $205 million in federal school funding

Denver’s Newlon Elementary School is using its share of federal coronavirus relief dollars to keep class sizes small and ensure students have access to mental health providers.

Grant Beacon and Kepner Beacon middle schools are adding deans of culture at each campus.

George Washington High School is using the funding to create two new positions: one dedicated to helping ninth-grade girls transition into high school and another part-time job inspired by National Public Radio’s StoryCorps feature. The new part-time staff member will help students record and share their personal stories with each other.

The two new staff members hired by Principal Kristin Waters are recent George Washington alumni. Both are Black, an important step toward fostering diversity and inclusion at a school with a history of segregation between its traditional and more rigorous classes.

“It’s about relationships and community,” Waters said of how her school chose to spend its share of the relief dollars, about $116,000. “The academics will come. When kids want to be here, when they know who’s here with them, the academics come into play.”

Denver Public Schools received $302.8 million in the second and third round of federal education relief funding, which must be spent in the next three school years. About $97.8 million will be passed along to Denver charter schools, leaving $205 million for district-run schools.

Denver’s plan for spending that money includes giving $28.7 million directly to schools for principals to spend as they see fit within the parameters set by the federal government. The district doled out $16 million this school year, and it plans to reduce that amount each year to wean schools off the federal funding rather than cut them off abruptly in 2024.

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