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Denver Public Schools

District Partner 2011-2012, 2014

In 2014, we partnered with DPS to incorporate a "System-Strategy" return-on-investment approach into their strategic planning, so the district can reach the ambitious student achievement goals of their 2020 strategic plan. Previously, we partnered with Denver Public Schools to complete a resource map of the district, and to support the evolution of their student-based budgeting system. 

"We've looked closely at some of the improvements and best practices that other leading districts have put forward, and I've been struck by a common theme: a number of those districts have spent considerable time with ERS."
-Tom Boasberg, Superintendent of Denver Public Schools

District Facts

Students: 87,398
Staff: 4,588
Schools: 166

Work Focus


  • Resource Use: Assess current resource strategies and consider how to reallocate to maximize impact on student learning; also to dive deeper into the district’s resource flexibility strategy


  • Return on Investment: Establish, with DPS, a common definition of what ROI means; apply an ROI approach to specific initiatives to identify which provides the best student-achievement return on their investment; build capacity at DPS to conduct ROI analyses in the future

Findings and Outcomes

  • School Design: DPS invested in principal training in school design and has developed a school design assessment protocol

  • School Funding: DPS adjusted its ELL weight to more accurately represent the additional cost of ELL instruction, and to better differentiate among different levels of need within the ELL population; our review of their compensation structure contributed to a major effort to evolve their system to include teacher leadership roles

  • Budgeting: DPS incorporated a frank discussion of resource priorities and trade-offs into their budgeting and strategic planning process; the district also adapted our School Budget Hold'em game and played it with a group of 150 parents as part of an outreach effort, and feedback from the session has been very positive

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