Denver’s Next Journey: Charters, Innovation Schools, and School Budgeting

A+ Colorado concludes the Denver’s Next Journey series with Charters, Innovation Schools, and School Budgeting, the 6th report covering a retrospective on the proliferation of school governance types including traditional public schools, magnet programs, charter schools, and innovation schools and zones. The report addresses common conceptions about the different governance models, and includes a detailed and unique table which breaks down how each of these models are serving Denver students while examining who makes the decisions, what sorts of flexibilities are offered to each school model, and how resources are allocated.

The report finds:
  • There has been increasing variability in student academic outcomes across all governance models.
  • There has been a steady decline in the number of traditional district-run schools within DPS, complemented by a rise in charters and innovation schools. In 2018-2019, 53% of Denver students attended traditional-district run schools, 25% were in innovation schools, and 22% were in charter schools.
  • In 2019, the average school serving 80-100% students eligible for free or reduced price lunch received nearly 50% more funding per student than the average school where 0-20% of students were eligible for free or reduced price lunch.
  • In 2017-2018, Denver spent $15,148 per student, marking the second year where per pupil spending exceeded pre-recession funding levels.
Read the full report for additional findings: