Rise & Shine: What’s the air quality like near Denver schools? We’ll find out soon.

Good morning!

Welcome to Rise & Shine.

When I was a reporter on the Alabama Gulf Coast, I developed a passion for covering environmental justice stories and informing communities about hazards they otherwise would not have known about. When I came to Chalkbeat in May, I hoped I might have the chance to examine how environmental and educational issues intersect in the Denver metro area. When I first started looking into the new air quality monitoring program coming to Denver Public Schools, I was impressed to learn just how much initiative the city has taken to address the public's concerns with air pollution. I was also left with a lot questions.

I wondered what kind of air pollution levels the Denver metro has seen in recent years, so I crunched state air quality data to find out. Thanks to the talented Chalkbeat digital production team, we were able to create an interactive map, so you can better visualize what we found. Read what researchers had to say about those findings, and learn more about a unique air quality monitoring program launching in Denver schools this fall.

I was also intrigued to learn that student asthma rates were a contributing factor in the selection of the first 10 schools to receive the new air quality sensors. I obtained those rates at all schools in the Denver district, and made them public for the first time. Find out the asthma rate in your school, and whether it's set to receive a sensor, in our searchable database.

We've got those stories below, plus takeaways from the first meeting of Colorado's school safety committee and a dispatch from the state's smallest school.

Thanks for reading!

– Kati Weis, Chalkbeat Colorado intern


Rise & Shine is Chalkbeat’s morning digest of education news. Subscribe to have it delivered to your inbox.

BREATHE EASY For the first time, parents, teachers, and administrators at 10 Denver public schools will know just how much air pollution students are exposed to on campus any given day. But it will be up to principals to enact policy changes, like moving recess times, that could improve student health. Chalkbeat

And many Denver schools with the highest asthma rates haven’t signed on to participate in the program. Find out if your school is one of them. Chalkbeat

SCHOOL SAFETY Statistically speaking, students are pretty safe in school. But they don’t feel safe. Here’s how Colorado lawmakers are tackling this complex issue. Chalkbeat Denver Post

LITERACY FOCUS A new charter school in Fort Collins aims to help students with dyslexia. Coloradoan

BALANCING ACT Property owners across Larimer County are paying more in taxes as home values increase, but the Poudre School District won’t have more revenue overall. That’s because state funding will go down to account for larger local share. It’s not clear how that could affect the chances of passing a mill levy override in November. Coloradoan

COUNTRY LIVING Gateway School in remote Unaweep Canyon is Colorado’s smallest school, ending this past school year with just 29 students. A few years ago, District 51 was thinking about closing the school. Now it’s a model for the kind of one-on-one learning that the district wants to see in all its schools. Grand Junction Sentinel

ON TRACK Mountain View Montessori in Fruita is on its third head of school in two years, but leaders of the public charter school say they think they’re headed in the right direction. Grand Junction Sentinel

PLAYTIME Milliken Elementary will get a completely new playground to serve the entire community with help from a $500,000 Colorado Health Foundation grant. Reporter-Herald