The Denver school board had a list of schools to be shut down due to not meeting the minimum criteria set in their closure study. It started with 19 schools, down to 10 and then five. After further community pressure, that list was further reduced to two schools, only to be reduced to zero the evening of the actual vote.
While the conditions were very much the same as in Jeffco, in that the politicians for the most part did not get involved, two out of eight councilors got involved but no word from city hall. Sixteen schools, and it was always 16 schools. No room for compromise, no room for reason.
What is it about our community that worked so hard to be heard that couldn’t sway the board’s predetermined vote? More importantly, what is it that needs to be done before the next vote?
The conversation about middle and high schools begins in January. A threshold will be determined on how many and which will be closed, relocated or merged. Wheat Ridge had already lost one middle school (WR5-8) in 2017 to budget shutdowns, while Everitt Middle suffered from low enrollment. Wheat Ridge families had been choicing into Creighton for their GT Purple team and the rigor offered at Manning as well the STEM program at Bell Middle. It was only the relocation of sixth grade from elementary to the middle schools that beefed up Everitt’s enrollment. Will that be enough to keep it off the chopping block?
Wheat Ridge High seems to be the biggest concern. Well below its capacity. The heart of the Farmer community. Can you even imagine this school even being included in this conversation? Will this finally have our city councilors’s undivided attention? Will city staffers finally stand up to the Jeffco school board?
Open enrollment has begun and will play a big factor as to how each school fares. This is the time for a community to rally around its local school and fill every seat. This is much more powerful than yard signs, social media posts or speaking at board meetings. But will parents choose local in support of their neighborhood schools or will they enroll into a school that’s a better fit for their student?
The more important question will be, will schools start listening to what parents are looking for or continue their path down the ever-changing flavor-of-the-month curriculum? This was the very spark for the exploding growth of charter schools throughout the nation. The secret sauce in every school with rocketing enrollment. Parents being included in the discussion of what and how to teach our students. The GT community rolled up their sleeves a few years ago. The STEM community was also heard. Students flock to Lakewood High for their IB program from all over Colorado. Families and their children are talking, but who is listening?
Where will you enroll your children? Write to us at WRGazette@gmail.com and tell us your story.