January 13, 2023
DPS School Board Votes To End Charter Middle School Contract
Denver Public Schools Board of Education Directors voted Thursday to not renew the contract for STRIVE-PREP-Kepner, a charter middle school of just over 200 students in southwest Denver. According to the Denver Post, Superintendent Alex Marrero recommended the closure due to low test scores and that the school has a high financial risk. The charter school began serving DPS students in 2016.
School board member Auon’tai Anderson was the lone vote against the closure. Anderson said he did not disagree with the district’s assessment that the school was underperforming, but he could not endorse a closure process that did not adequately include community input.
Last fall Marrero recommended closing 10 schools due to declining enrollment, but school board members, including Anderson, voted against the recommendation. The reluctant school board members said the district did not do enough to engage with families that the closures would affect.
Aurora Landlord Who Used Armed Guards To Conduct An Eviction Faces Lawsuit By 18 Former Tenants
Eighteen former tenants of Summit View Inn, a 95-unit, extended stay motel on East Colfax Avenue in Aurora, are suing the building’s owner VareCo, alleging the company and its owner Terrance Doyle, evicted them by unlawful means and in the process discarded valuable possessions of the tenants including birth certificates and social security cards. Other lost possessions include family heirlooms, furniture, and medications.
The company faced a similar lawsuit by three other tenants of the building who have since settled. The first lawsuit claimed VareCo hired arm guards to evict all remaining tenants of the building by gunpoint in late 2021. Tenants say within the scramble of a confusing eviction done outside of proper court channels and being ushered out, they lost their valuables and the company did not respond to requests to retrieve their possessions. The former tenants also say prior to the eviction, the company took no action in correcting unsafe and unsanitary conditions of the building.
VareCo told the Colorado Sun the company acquired the building to improve it and to renovate it as affordable housing for veterans. The company said the lawsuit is driven by activist lawyers and is factually and legally baseless. The company’s spokesperson did not respond to follow-up questions as to what claims were inaccurate.
According to the Colorado Sun, the company has said on recently removed internet videos their business model is to turn over dilapidated buildings and re-rent the rehabbed complexes to new residents at or above market-rate rents.
Aurora Expected To Receive $5 Million Water Project Grant
Details about a Federal grant that would expand Aurora’s Prairie Waters project, are expected to be worked out between the city and the federal government over the next few months. The grant would bring Aurora five million dollars in federal funding, for a project the city says would recover enough water to support thousands of homes.
The Aurora Sentinel reports that the grant would go toward an $11.5 million dollar project to dig a new pump station and well, which would draw water from below the South Platte River. The pump station and well would be part of an expansion of the Prairie Waters project that, along with another well planned for next year, could double the amount of water the project recovers.
City officials say any water collected by the wells will have passed through enough sediment beneath the South Platte to filter out pathogens and other contaminants. That means it would take less work to make the water safe to drink. The system would also be a buffer against drought.
The federal government says Aurora is likely to receive the five million dollar grant.
Consulting Group Recommends Leadership Overhaul At The State’s Emergency Management Agency
A consulting group hired by the state released an assessment Thursday verifying employee concerns about negative workplace culture at the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The assessment provided several recommendations to improve the agency’s work environment.
The state hired the consulting agency in August after allegations surfaced that one of the agency’s directors performed aggressive and inappropriate behavior. An employee complaint also accused the division’s leadership of creating a toxic work environment, with leadership bickering and yelling and showing a lack of respect and decency. The employee also said agency heads lacked budget transparency and failed to provide leadership and enforcement of policies. Many employees described the leadership in charge as dysfunctional with the dysfunction trickling down the ranks and creating distrust and eroding communication.
The Colorado Sun reports the consultants recommended immediate action to overhaul leadership and improve the agency’s accountability.
Additional SNAP Benefits Authorized For COVID-19 Pandemic Relief To End In February
The Colorado Department of Human Services is warning that residents who receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, will see a reduction in their monthly benefit after February. According to state officials, federal lawmakers passed a consolidated appropriations bill just prior to the new year that ends COVID-19 related emergency allotments for SNAP participants. State officials say the program provides money to purchase food for close to 300,000 households in Colorado. They estimate the change will reduce individual benefits by $90 per month or an average of $360 per month for a family of four.