Denver Public Schools

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Denver County School District 1
Denver Public Schools
Public school district
Industry Education
Founded 1859 (158 years ago)
Headquarters Denver, Colorado
Key people
Happy Haynes, School Board President,
Tom Boasberg, Superintendent,
Susana Cordova, Acting Superintendent
Number of employees

The Denver County School District No. 1, more commonly known as the Denver Public Schools (DPS), is the public school system in the City and County of Denver, Colorado, United States.


Robert W. Steele Elementary School in Denver, 1918

In 1859, Owen J. Goldrick established the Union School, Denver's first school, a private school that served thirteen students.[1] Other private schools opened shortly thereafter to accommodate Denver’s rapidly growing population during the Pike's Peak Gold Rush. In 1861, the new territorial government established Goldrick as the superintendent in Arapahoe County (which then encompassed Denver). Soon after the first two public school districts in Denver were formed: District One on the east side of the city and District Two on the west side. District Two opened the first public school in Denver on December 1, 1862 in a rented log cabin and District One followed suit soon after. On April 2, 1873 the first purpose built school building, the "Arapahoe School", opened.[2]

In 1902, the 20th Amendment to the Constitution of the State of Colorado, known as the Rush Amendment, created the City and County of Denver, separating it from Arapahoe County. In 1903, Denver Public Schools was established. All school districts in Denver County were consolidated into Denver Public Schools, and Aaron Gove became the first-ever DPS Superintendent.

In 2015, the Brookings Institution ranked Denver Public Schools first in school choice among large school districts in the United States.[3][4]


DPS operates 183 schools, including traditional, magnet, charter and pathways schools, with a current total enrollment of 90,143 students. Of those, 57% of the school districts enrollment is Hispanic, 22% is Caucasian, 14% is African American, 3% is Asian, 3% is more than two races, and 1% is American Indian/other. 140 languages are spoken, and 39% are English language learners. 11% of students have special needs. The poverty rate is 70%.

Under the leadership of Superintendent Tom Boasberg and guided by the tenets of the Denver Plan, DPS has become the fastest-growing urban school district in the nation. The total of DPS graduates has grown from 2,655 in 2006 to 3,608 in 2014. Drop-out rates have dropped from 11.1% in 2006 to 4.5% in 2014. DPS is committed to establishing Denver as a national leader in student achievement, high school graduation, and college and career readiness.

Student demographics[edit]

  Hispanic (56.1%)
  White (22.6%)
  Black (13.8%)
  Asian or Pacific Islander (3.5%)
  American Indian or Alaskan Native (.6%)
  Two or more races (3.5%)
Historical student population
Year Pop. ±%
2009 78,352 —    
2010 79,423 +1.4%
2011 81,870 +3.1%
2012 84,424 +3.1%
2013 87,398 +3.5%
2014 90,143 +3.1%
2015 91,429 +1.4%

In the 2014- 2015 school year, 90,143 students were enrolled in 183 Denver Public Schools consisting of three Early Childhood Education or K-12 schools, 89 elementary, 19 ECE-8 or K-8, 25 middle, 12 grades 6-12, and 35 traditional high schools.

71.7 percent (62,977) of public school students qualified for free or reduced price lunch in the 2013-2014 school year.[5]

There are 13,991 employees of DPS; 5,561 of them are teachers.[6]


Although Denver is more than 52 percent non-Hispanic white, minority groups represent double the regular Denver population. The reason for this has been white flight over the past few decades and extremely strong Hispanic school-age growth due to relatively high birth rates. The predominant heritage in the Denver Public School system is Mexican American. Denver has a high Hispanic percentage of roughly 32%, and they are a majority in the public school system.


  1. ^ "Denver Public Schools: History". Denver Public Schools. Retrieved February 18, 2016. The first school bells in Denver rang out on October 3, 1859 when professor Owen J. Goldrick opened his "Union School". The school, a log cabin, was located on the west side of 12th Street between Larimer and Market Streets. It was a private school with an enrollment of thirteen children and lasted until late in the winter of 1859-60...School resumed classes on May 7, 1860 with Goldrick and an assistant, Miss Miller. 
  2. ^ Smiley, Jerome C. (1901). History of Denver: With Outlines of the Earlier History of the Rocky Mountain Country. Times-Sun Pub. Co. pp. 735–760. Archived from the original on 2013-01-28. 
  3. ^ Whitehurst, Grover J. (2015). "Education Choice and Competition Index 2015" (PDF). Center on Children and Families, Brookings Institution. Retrieved February 18, 2016. 
  4. ^ Asmar, Melanie (February 4, 2016). "Denver Public Schools ranks first for school choice among large districts nationwide". Chalk Beat Colorado. Retrieved February 18, 2016. 
  5. ^ Denver Children's Affairs, facts sheet
  6. ^ "Facts & Figures". Denver Public Schools. Retrieved 2015-06-25. 

External links[edit]