For many families with school age children, it’s enrollment time of the year again. And while for many it will just be a repeat action, we are seeing more parents considering new options.
It wasn’t that long ago that families found themselves needing to create a classroom environment in their own homes – competing, of course, with the need for a home office, home theater and home restaurant. More needs for the same space. Shifting from being a sometime homework helper to a part-time teacher to supplement the Zoom classes. The reality of course was that not all parents could afford to stay home with their kids. In fact, many did not have a choice of working from home.
But if you thought that was yesterday, it looks like we are heading that way again. So what to do? Choose a local school, but plan to stay home? Enrollment in Jeffco overall is down yet the choices have dramatically increased. More focused and specialized learning institutions have sprung up, privately funded with more accountability. But I have to wonder about the fate of our local neighborhood classrooms. How much support do they have from the community? In Wheat Ridge we have a local neighborhood school struggling to attract students while just down the street a charter is enrolling four times the amount from the very same community. What would it take to boost enrollment at your neighborhood school?
Enrollment of course is directly related to budgets: less students, less dollars. Budget restraints are popping up in every conversation. The overruns in school building projects are depleting the bond dollars we voted on only a few years ago. The food and nutrition department is losing upward of a million dollars and still serving bad food, all while our board just voted to spend upwards of $30 million on a swimming pool for the city of Arvada. How many talented teachers can we get for $30 million? How many revamped air purifiers for classrooms, school bus drivers, not to mention mental health specialists? As we continue to budget our households based on necessities and an unknown future, shouldn’t our local officials be doing the same?
Colorado allows every family to enroll their kids wherever they choose: neighborhood, charters, private and even home. Shop around and meet with principals. Don’t base your decisions on hearsay or website published scores. Do your research and stay involved. It’s not about homework or common core. More like, in which environment will your child feel motivated to learn and excited to come back the following day?
Guy Nahmiach is the Publisher of the Neighborhood Gazette.