DENVER -- And then there was one. The woman expected to be the next superintendent of Denver Public Schools went before parents, students and educators Tuesday night at George Washington High School.
She was pressed on a variety of issues, including how she will work to narrow the opportunity gap among minority students. Susana Cordova says that will be a priority for her. She told FOX31 she wants to create a more equitable school system designed to help all students succeed, regardless of their cultural or socioeconomic backgrounds.
“People want to be able to be engaged with DPS in authentic ways,” Cordova said.
A national search for a superintendent started in August. DPS said it was in contact with 122 potential candidates, but insiders say it appears Cordova was always top-of-mind. She is a product of DPS, a former DPS teacher, principal and current DPS deputy superintendent.
“I think one of the advantages that I have, as having grown up inside DPS, is I have a real perspective and opinion on the things that we do well and -- frankly -- the things that we don’t do well,” Cordova said Tuesday night.
But critics argue an outside voice is needed to bring about change in a district that’s in desperate need of improvement.
“Change is important, especially when we’re dealing with schools,” said Jonathan Bateman, a George Washington High School freshman.
Bateman and others wanted to hear from more than just one finalist on Tuesday. Cordova agrees.
“I had been hoping that I’d be standing here to show who I am in comparison to other folks,” she said. “I’m still approaching it in that same way.”
DPS says other finalists dropped out of the running before names were made public due to candidates’ concerns over the status of their current positions elsewhere. School district leaders spent more than $160,000 on the search, only to end up with someone who works just down the hall.
“I’m very happy, because she is part of the Latino community, and there are so many Latino students in the district,” DPS grandparent and employee Elvia Luvin said.
Cordova says teachers need to be supported with the goal of catering teaching methods to students from various backgrounds. The goal is for as many children as possible to receive a higher-quality education.
Cordova is expected to be approved by the school board on Dec. 17. She is currently the second-highest paid DPS employee. The current superintendent of DPS makes more than $236,000 annually.