Dear Team DPS,
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
– A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh)
It’s never easy to say goodbye to great people, and so I am sad to share that two extraordinary members of Team DPS have let us know that they are leaving: Deputy Superintendent of Operations Mark Ferrandino and Associate Chief of Portfolio Management Jennifer Holladay. Both of them have been dedicated members of our team, and DPS will sorely miss them.
Mark joined Team DPS six and a half years ago to lead the Finance Office and became the Deputy Superintendent of Operations nearly two years ago. In his time in DPS, he has successfully spearheaded two rounds of bond and mill levy initiatives, helping bring nearly $1.4 billion for infrastructure investments and $88 million in ongoing revenue into DPS for much-needed school and facility improvements, as well as ongoing investments in our school teams to ensure we can hire more nurses and mental health staff, and to make necessary increases to the low end of our payscale. During the current global pandemic, Mark has been instrumental in ensuring that students had access to food, technology, and the internet. I have always appreciated Mark’s positive outlook and belief that we can solve what seem like insurmountable problems, and his quick wit and buoyant laugh are a tremendous boost during hard times. Mark will be joining Gov. Jared Polis’ administration as the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, starting in late December.
Jen Holladay has been with DPS since 2013, serving in a variety of roles in the Portfolio Management Team. She has approached her work, first and foremost, with a firm belief in the power of high-quality schools to change lives. She has led major policy initiatives, including revisions to the School Performance Compact, which added more thoughtful and nuanced approaches, and she led a community process that brought a broad and diverse spectrum of voices to our decision to shift the DPS accountability system to the state’s School Performance Framework. Jen has a long track record of equity-driven efforts with our charter and innovation schools to ensure that our most marginalized students have the support they need to access opportunity. Integrity is the word that first comes to my mind to describe Jen -- she has so much integrity. She brings a strong, principled voice to every discussion, and I deeply appreciate her efforts here in DPS. She will be with us through the first week of January.
We are currently working on transition plans for both Jen and Mark to ensure that the work they lead continues. I’ve been strengthened by the close working relationship I’ve had with both of these tremendous leaders. And it’s important to me to emphasize that these are decisions that Mark and Jen have been contemplating for many weeks. The timing is, undeniably, difficult. But I want to assure all of you that these changes are not the result of my decision to pursue a new opportunity. Team DPS remains resilient and strong across the city because of the dedication, the talent, and the enormous heart of our people.
In terms of the leadership transition for the district, I continue to work with the Board of Education to determine the timeline and my last day, and the Board is also working on its process for selecting an interim superintendent. This selection will likely be announced in December, and will allow everyone to continue to focus on our crisis priorities.
I know that change can be hard, but we have amazing teams that remain focused on and dedicated to supporting our students, teachers, leaders, and each other. Please join me in thanking both Mark and Jen for their service and contributions to Team DPS and in sending along our well-wishes to them both in their future pursuits.