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11 Denver schools get an early start Wednesday

5:26 PM, Aug 10, 2011   |    comments
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Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg welcomed students and teachers back to school.

Out of the more than 100 schools in the Denver Public School District, 11 "low-performing" schools were chosen to start the school year one week early and have extended hours in school for additional instructional time. Boasberg says the changes are difficult but necessary.

"In our [six-year-long] reform, we've gone from the slowest-growing big district in Colorado to the fastest-growing, most-successful district, and we have many of the best schools in the state. But that hasn't always been true in this area of town. And we need to make sure every neighborhood in every district [has] a good school for our kids," Boasberg said. "Sometimes change isn't easy, but in this case, we needed to make the change here from the status quo that simply wasn't working for too many of our kids. Today is an opening of these new schools but also new opportunities for our students."

Some parents don't believe these reforms are the proper recipe for the schools in far northeast Denver. John Dale says the district is too drastic.

"Wholesale changes rarely, if ever, work," Dale said. "I'm very disappointed as a parent."

Teachers like Claudia Cunningham hope parents like Dale give the reforms a chance.

"There are some doubters out there and so hopefully they will be reassured that it's going to be better," Cunningham said.

Dale says parents were not given enough of a chance to weigh in on the reform plan before it was voted on earlier this year.

"I hope it's successful. I have a lot of hope, but I don't have a lot of faith," Dale said. "I hope I'm wrong."

Students in northeast Denver have access to a new service called the "Success Express." It is a free school shuttle service to take any student in northeast Denver to any school in that area.

The rest of the Denver Public School district goes back to school Thursday, Aug. 18. The state's largest district, Jefferson County School District, begin classes on Aug. 22.

Jenna Espinoza contributed to this report.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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