Kimberlee Sia, previous head of KIPP Colorado charter network, is working for Denver school board

The previous CEO of the KIPP Colorado constitution school network is running to represent southeast Denver on the university board.

Kimberlee Sia will problem incumbent Scott Baldermann, who is functioning for re-election. One particular essential variance among the two candidates is their sights on constitution educational facilities and faculty selection: Baldermann is an outspoken critic, whilst Sia is a staunch supporter.

“Every family requires to have access to a college that greatest meets the needs of their young children,” said Sia, whose two small children show up at Denver Public Schools. “I would adore for the narrative to be altered by the board to say, ‘How do we take gain of these fantastic decisions we have?’”

A few of the 7 seats on the Denver university board are up for grabs Nov. 7. At stake is how the board will offer with declining enrollment and reply to basic safety issues, primarily right after a large-profile shooting inside East High Faculty this previous spring. The election also has the probable to transform the dynamic of the board, which has been criticized as dysfunctional.

Sia, 47, was CEO of KIPP Colorado Community Faculties from 2013 to 2019. KIPP is a nationwide constitution network with six educational institutions in Denver. 

Sia remaining KIPP to turn into president and CEO of the Colorado “I Have a Dream” Foundation, a nonprofit corporation that operates following-university and summer programming in DPS faculties, between other initiatives. She reported she not long ago left the foundation, in aspect to run for school board.

“Making the selection to operate is focused on the fact that we need a alter,” Sia claimed. “The pandemic was a obstacle for everybody. As we have occur out of that, as a parent, I just have not felt like the district has been as responsive to the group as they could be.”

Sia named college protection, declining pupil enrollment, and a sustainable workload for educators as her major issues. She reported she anxieties about large educator turnover.

“Working at the foundation, many of our little ones would tell us, ‘I really do not have a instructor proper now’ or ‘I have a substitute’ or ‘our principal still left,’” she explained. “For a university group to be steady, a enormous ingredient of that is the educators in the building each individual day performing amazing do the job with the children.”

Sia explained she agrees with the current board choice to reinstate law enforcement officers in some Denver superior universities. But law enforcement are not the only remedy, she explained. 

“What are we executing to assist colleges on major of that?” Sia reported. “Not just about every university has [a school resource officer, known as an SRO]. And for colleges that do have an SRO, the SRO will not address all the basic safety complications at the school.”

If elected, Sia stated she’d like to see standard updates on how faculties are pursuing the superintendent’s lately unveiled security program, which states, for instance, that educational facilities can select to install weapons detection programs.

“How many educational facilities chose to do that?” Sia mentioned. “What are the impacts of that? Did you find 12 children introduced knives to university this week? There is a absence of reporting and facts in phrases of, ‘This is what we the district are executing and let’s examine what’s functioning well and what is not.’”

She’d also like to see a lot more mental health and fitness assist in schools, and for DPS to give educators clearer instructions on college student willpower. In her six a long time at KIPP, Sia mentioned the community worked to minimize suspension charges and disproportionate willpower dependent on students’ race.

“When I initial joined KIPP In 2013, there was hugely disproportionate self-control info and significant suspension prices,” Sia reported. “It’s section of what prompted me to say, ‘We have to have to address this.’ It was not what little ones desired. … When I left KIPP, it still wasn’t very low enough for my liking. We made strides in the do the job we were undertaking and there was continue to work to do.”

One of the hardest selections the faculty board will have to make is no matter whether to close more educational facilities owing to declining enrollment. The board voted this past spring to close three smaller colleges, but Superintendent Alex Marrero had initially advised closing 10.

Sia mentioned she’d aid closing smaller schools if the price to retain them open up drains funding from other schools. But she criticized DPS’s current method, which she reported didn’t give educators, people, and pupils enough see or chance to issue remedy.

“It is a problem for me to see a problem where if the district is obtaining to health supplement funding for a university to a degree that starts to influence the funding for other schools that there is any choice other than having to shut that university,” she reported.

Candidates for Denver school board have historically fallen into 1 of two camps: those backed by the academics union and people backed by training reform companies. Candidates’ assist or disapproval for unbiased charter faculties has often been a dividing line.

While Sia is closely tied with charter educational institutions in Colorado, including getting served as the board chair of the Colorado League of Charter Educational facilities, she said she also has ties to lecturers unions. She has worked as a classroom trainer, principal, and district administrator, and was president of a academics union in a compact district in California, she said. 1 of her kids attends a constitution college in DPS although the other attends a district-run school.

The latest Denver school board associates are all backed by the instructors union, but there has been infighting and energy struggles concerning some associates. Sia mentioned she’d like to alter that.

“For me, if you are sitting on the board, you are in service to the local community and it needs to be about our students and our educators and our educational facilities,” Sia said. “I see myself as a servant leader. It is what is motivating me to run. I’m a get down, get dirty, and do the do the job variety man or woman.”

Melanie Asmar is a senior reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado, covering Denver Public Universities. Call Melanie at [email protected].

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