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Facilities panel narrows list, gets surprise

The Jeffco Schools citizen and staff committee that’s studying possible school closures, student reassignments and program moves Monday narrowed the options it may recommend to the school board in January.

Recommendations that received tentative committee support would close two middle schools and four elementaries and move some district 6th graders into middle schools for an estimated total savings of $3.8 million (before one-time costs.)

But, the Facilities Usage Committee got a surprise late in the meeting when members learned that theirs might not be the only recommendations put before the board.

The 30-member committee, created by the school board last spring, has conducted an exhaustive process of study, evaluation and public comment, including four public hearings in November that drew more than 3,000 people.

Co-chair Phillip Infelise hopes the panel can cull its current list of about 50 options to between 10 and 15 to present to the board.

But on Monday, Justin Silverstein, an Augenblick, Palaich and Associates consultant who is helping facilitate the panel’s work, told members that district staff might give the board additional options.

Some committee members raised questions, and Superintendent Cindy Stevenson said, “I think it’s just a matter of trying to figure out all the ways to look at the issue. … I just think the board when it has to make hard decisions likes to look at all available data.”

Stevenson said she’s attending principals’ meeting around the district to gauge their feelings. Noting that implementation of some recommendations could create “winners and losers” among schools, Stevenson said, “I don’t want to create divisions among schools.”

The board requested the additional staff review. Three of the five Jeffco board members are new since the facilities committee was created.

The facilities panel broke into three groups Monday to discuss the 50-some options currently on the table, and each group recommended whether individual options should go the board or be dropped.

Here are the major options all three subgroups agreed to should remain in play:

  • Close Arvada Middle School and move students to North Arvada Middle. Estimated annual savings $1.3 million.
  • Move Ken Caryl Middle students to Deer Creek Middle and close Ken Caryl. Estimated annual savings $1 million.
  • Closure of Pleasant View Elementary School and moving students to Shelton and Welchester schools.
  • Move 6th graders from Devinny Elementary to Dunstan Middle. Estimated annual savings $25,815.
  • Distribute Pennington Elementary students to three other schools and close Pennington; send Wheat Ridge Elementary 6th graders to Everitt Middle. Estimated savings $413,423.
  • Move 6th graders from Martensen, Stevens, Molholm and Wilmore Davis to Wheat Ridge Middle, send younger Martensen students to three other elementaries and close Martensen. Estimated savings $456,233.
  • Move all Pomona-area 6th graders to Moore Middle, mover Zenger K-5 students to other schools and close Zenger. Estimated savings $206,860.
  • Close and demolish up to 120 temporary classrooms at sites where use is under 92 percent. Estimated savings $442,548.

Among major options rejected by all three subgroups were moving Westgate and Green Gables 6th graders to Carmody Middle, moving Chatfield Elementary 6th graders to two middle schools, restricting enrollment at Falcon Bluffs Middle and various proposals to move some preschool and other special programs and to create partner elementary schools.

The subgroups weren’t unanimous on a number of other options, so those will be discussed again when the full facilities panel meets for the last time on Dec. 14. The final list is due to the board Jan. 14.

Major options in that group include:

  • Moving 6th graders in the Alameda areas to O’Connell Middle.
  • Moving 7th and 8th graders from O’Connell to Alameda High School.
  • Putting Arvada 6th graders into middle school and closing Russell Elementary.
  • Closing Foster Elementary.
  • Moving Stony Creek Elementary 6th graders to Deer Creek Middle.
  • Changing elementary and middle school attendance areas in the Evergreen-Conifer area.
  • Closing Carmody Middle.
  • Creating partner schools in the Edgewater area.
  • Closing Fitsmorris Elementary.

The original list that was discussed at a recent series of public meetings contained 31 main options that, along with multiple variations for some of the options, totaled 50.

See this EdNews story for an in-depth look at the committee’s work and links to committee document, audio of the public meetings and other information.

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