A Glimpse at "New" Schools: Montclair School of Academics and Enrichment

Okay, okay … so Denver’s Montclair School of Academics and Enrichment isn’t exactly new. In fact, at more than 100 years of age, it’s one of Colorado’s older public schools. So what’s new about it?

Montclair is one of the state’s first two Innovation Schools — as approved by the local school board and by the state board of education under the 2008 state law — and the only school to be recognized both as an Innovation School and as a DPS Beacon School. What does that mean, you ask?

More control at the school level, more collaboration between the principal and other instructional leaders in the school, and most importantly, more freedom from state laws, district policies, and bargaining provisions that make it difficult for Montclair (a K-5 elementary school in east Denver) to reach the needs of its student population.

As an Innovation School (PDF), Montclair will seek to implement a more rigorous academic program, extend classroom hours and the school calendar, adjust policies for student promotion, hire and dismiss (some) teachers outside the traditional union contract, have the latitude to develop more of its own budget, and offer more faculty and staff bonuses for performance.

So this is a unique edition of “A Glimpse”. Montclair isn’t exactly a new school, but its Innovation and Beacon status will allow school leaders to try new approaches and take it in a new direction. Let’s hope for its success, and as the word spreads, maybe more parents will demand and get this kind of innovation for their neighborhood school, too.

Other new schools featured: Atlas Preparatory Charter (Colorado Springs), Envision Leadership Prep (Denver), Animas High School (Durango).