School Models

DPS believes in the power of flexibility. This means we:

  • Empower schools through flexible, school-based decision-making, including the use of resources.

  • Expand high-quality school choices in all communities through differentiated supports for existing schools, new school strategies, turnaround efforts and strong accountability systems.

  • Provide schools with opportunities to innovate and create environments that best meet the academic and social/emotional needs of their students, including expansion of personalized learning environments.

Offering choices for our schools

To provide schools with the opportunities to create truly flexible school environments, as directed by the Innovation Schools Act of 2008 and Charter Schools Act, DPS offers a number of pathways for schools to gain autonomies through pursuing individual school innovation status, innovative management organization status, innovation zone status or charter school status.

District-run Innovation Schools

The Innovation Schools Act of 2008 defines an Innovation school as “a school in which the local school board implements an innovation plan.” Innovation plans that are in the best interest of pupils, the District, and the community are approved for a three-year period. In addition, Board Policy ADE establishes principles and standards for the development, approval, and implementation of Innovation schools seeking to improve academic achievement.

The innovation school design process requires that a school seeking Innovation status develop a written application meeting all statutory requirements in addition to undertaking a consent process with specific stakeholders.

For more information, and to access the innovation school application, contact

Innovative Management Organizations (IMOs)

Innovative Management Organizations, or IMOs, are a distinctive DPS network structure that organizes two or more schools together to support the implementation of shared educational models, with the ability to leverage their resources across school sites and with oversight by an executive principal,. The shared purpose of the IMO is to ensure effective implementation and support for the educational model at all schools in the IMO. Schools in an IMO may or may not possess innovation status.

For more information, contact

Innovation Zones

Already existing innovation schools may pursue organizing into an innovation zone for shared learning. Innovation zones are a structure established under state statute for innovation schools that share common interests to create their own network or “zone.”

For more information, please contact

Charter Schools

DPS charter schools are public, independently operated schools. Each charter school board has a contract with the DPS Board of Education that outlines their operating terms, including performance goals, program elements, and required compliance with State and Federal Requirements. In Colorado, charter schools are operated pursuant to the Colorado Charter Schools Act. All DPS charter schools are nonprofit organizations.

For more information, and for all interested applicants, please visit our New Quality Schools page or contact