Denver Public Schools Sustainability Management Plan
Executive Committee Meeting
September 14, 2011, 3:30-5:30
Paul Schmiechen Becky Goyton Maria Schurtz Trena Deane
Liz Henry BJ Berggren Patty Breech Kyle Gamba
Morgan Blanco Darel Leedy Laurel Mattrey Derrick Cummings
Marta Osuna Tracy S. Hewitt Dee Dee Case Judy Dorsey
Joni Rix Jessica Romer Beth Schhwisow Bill Franzen
Benita Duran Bud Bullard Patty Kincaid Dave Wortman
Judy Dorsey (JD), Brendle Group: Provided re-orientation to the project.
Bill Franzen (BF), Sage2 Associates: Summarized interview results to date, provided overview of existing
sustainability practices, reviewed vision/policy options.
Group discussion on vision/policy options:
- Point of clarification: DPS or Sustainability Team? BF: Meant to become a vision statement
for the entire district.
- Comment on vision vs. policy; more feasible to adopt a policy where board has to approve
it, whereas vision may just apply to facilities. Policy is also more cross cutting. Perhaps have
- Gear wording toward positive vs. negative – better practice for a vision.
- Emphasis on education at the end, may want to move up in importance and strengthen in
- Vision should focus on broader purpose, not just environment and resources.
- Agreed, focused a lot on environmental sustainability, not enough on economic and social
- Agree that policy is preference; as an outside agency, it’s much easier for partners to come
in to see where they fit as opposed to a “feel good” vision. Like the Poudre School District
one, public education being a leader; also liked it was very direct.
- Like “we will” language.
- Agree to add more education emphasis, or have it first; as student, more resources to see
what is happening in schools and at district-wide level.
- If policy, expand to organization as a whole.
- For other school district examples, also a board process to approve? BF: Yes, required for
policy in all districts in Colorado. Look into process and lessons learned.
- Student engagement; love the idea of policy and vision, vision written in student-friendly
language. Attention to student engagement in bullet points. Rally student participation with
- DPS vision statement is good, avoids unusual phrases present in some other statements.
Agree with hybrid of vision and policy, student-friendly language with policy bullets.
Group discussion on topic area structure:
- Where do urban gardens and farming fit in?
- Jim Faes (JF), DPS: Each category touches on the environment; would it make sense just to
have an environmental bucket?
- Environment is pretty broad. Energy, water; they are all resource conservation.
- Founding documents for the Denver Green School would be great for mining terms on
vision, goals and strategies.
- Green jobs training misses the opportunity to address environmental education, don’t get
too specific. Can talk about general environmental education and then green jobs training.
Could be green education and training.
- Opportunity for internships and similar opportunities could be significant. Include
professional development piece in training component.
- Could add categories or shrink them down to three. Should be a message and motivator.
Short, sweet, impactful. Great reminder for people.
- Curriculum could be a cross cutting topic; that’s a piece where we should see it reflected in
each of the other topics. Goals could be structured in another way with a cross-cutting
- How do topics fit in to future bond?
- How do green buildings fit in? JD: Boulder Valley School District pulled out buildings
because of their bond program.
- Education was a really big topic in Kyle Gamba’s thesis; training and education of students.
- Could be education, materials, resource efficiency, transportation and facilities; or could be
built environment/facilities and land use. JD: Don’t want to end up in silos with respect to
facilities. Built environment and land use could be a bucket. BF: This is a living document,
really important to get it right.
- JD: We’ll come back with some options for how to organize topics.
- Consensus that the Committee would be willing to do a rank, vote and comment using
Survey Monkey on a few options.
Discussion of specific goals by topic areas:
- JD: Clarified that the sustainability team goals now would actually be strategies in our SMP
- Likes to look at it as a devil’s advocate. Almost every person likes efficiency. Conservation
and reducing waste, pollution prevention are good terms that resonate. Efficiency is never a
dirty word in any industry. Public image is important to remember.
- Quantitative goals will have to be verified for a skeptical public. JD: Accountability part will
be addressed in the SMP.
- JF: thinking about efficiency, conservation, renewable energy/generation and
tracking/reporting. Source being a mix of coal and solar. Reporting is a critical piece,
tracking is core of what you’re doing internally, converts into reporting. Already have most
quantitative goals developed for these topics like energy.
- Could use JF’s framework for water and solid waste and have a rhythm going.
- Food services; kids have a biodegradable tray, 60,000 lunches, have energy and water use
from dish machines vs. waste. Which is better? Energy, water and solid waste affect us
every day. BF: Could be a short-term goal to do a cost benefit study.
- A goal could be LEED standards for all new construction.
- Will have to deal with DPS budgeting and accounting, one department has to purchase
trays, another department does waste hauling and has to pay fees. Need to address
- Washington School District managed to address moving money around to get out of
department silos. JD: Maybe another topic is budgeting and flows.
- Great point, departmentalized on budget. Needs to be partnership between departments
for the best use of funds. Incentives for students to minimize consumption of energy in
buildings. Grants or programs to incent students and staff.
- Buttress plan with key words, moving forward, education for kids, education to be smarter.
Public will not scoff at that, but they may scoff at a particular energy goal. Saving money is
- Board institutionalizes sustainability to force our hand, nothing wrong with tough policy.
- Plan will be received well if aligned with Denver, community and district culture.
- BF: Have a process for organizational change. Make part of everybody’s culture shift, not
just a department thing. Education/professional development piece can be overriding to
energy goal. JD: Potential cross-matrix with budgeting, culture, organization, etc.
- DPS getting broader picture of urban sites and land use. Looking at bigger picture of how
we’re using our land for learning spaces vs. land, gardens, etc. JD: Emerging topic, so maybe
better first goal is characterization and prioritization. Urban farm part just starting, one
little piece. Doing other creative things with land.
- Rationale in land use equation; health of students and community, why we’re doing it as an
- Tracking that Jim brought up, way to capture percentages, but also a way to track how they
change. Where is data stored and accessed, are we creating systems for that? Framework
for tracking changes for all topics.
- Looking at cottage concept, will we need to expand parking, building? Very careful on how
we use land. Useful for public to know we’re making smart choices. Strategic locations
- Existing land use is under review and has no master plan. Look at master plan for land use
Green Jobs and Training
- If broadening to education and training, lots of resources by level of school. And then for
staff, what are resources available? Education of the community is also important. Practices
of irrigation, educating community on what we’re doing and why, and how they can help.
Communications piece is important.
- Do not confuse communication with planning.
- Green jobs training; can relate to goal and vision as a whole? How does this topic relate and
how do other topics relate to the DPS main mission of educating children?
- Education most important but may be where we hit biggest roadblocks. Have to battle
against people working really hard on achievement, their plate is full. Proceed with caution.
- Could be a goal around alignment of these topics with grade-level curriculum; consider
timing of curriculum.
- Curriculum would have to be aligned. Green jobs training is about “college and career
readiness.” Emily Griffith Technical College is offering good green jobs training. Green Valley
Ranch Academy is another partner to bring in.
- This discussion re-affirms the need for a policy; having both is a good idea, DPS vision
statement is holding up well from discussion.
- Send minutes with contact information, invite further feedback.