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Final Jeffco proposal: Close eight schools

A Jeffco Schools advisory committee Monday recommended closing eight schools as part of a broader belt-tightening program.

The recommendations, which also include reassignment of some students and other changes, will be presented formally to the Board of Education on Jan. 14. The board, which could act as early as that meeting, has the final say and can accept or reject any of the Facilities Usage Committee’s recommendations, or choose other options, such as those suggested by district principals.

Timing of closures and moves also would be up the board. Some recommendations proposed moving 6th graders from elementary to middle schools, and some parents and teachers have suggested that shouldn’t be done for the 2010-11 school year.

There’s some pressure for the board to move quickly, because school choice deadlines fall in mid-January, and decisions from the board would make things clearer for some families.

The committee’s 12 proposals, if accepted as a whole, could save $6.7 million in annual operating costs, although that would be reduced by increased operating costs at some consolidated schools. The one-time costs of the changes and closures are estimated at $1.5 million. Sale of closed facilities could raise an estimated $4.5 million. Most of the final options have a payback of less than a year.

Facilities savings are meant to be part of broader budget cutting and use of district reserves. Superintendent Cindy Stevenson said Monday the district needs to make annual cuts of $15-$20 million, in large part to deal with expected cuts in state aid.

The committee has been working since last March on the project, which included reviewing detailed information about every school in the district and three sets of public hearings. (See this EdNews story for background.)

Committee cochair Phillip Infelise thanked members for their work, joking, “You’ll continually take abuse for years to come.”

School board President Dave Thomas also thanked the group, noting, “We wish we weren’t doing this; we wish we didn’t have to do this.” He said the board “will take very serious consideration” of the recommendations.

Earlier this fall, the committee came up with a list of 49 options, which were whittled down to 26 before the panel’s final meeting Monday. Some of the options were variations of the same ideas, others were interconnected and some were contradictory. A few options were dropped because they were deemed unfeasible for reasons such as lack of space.

Here’s the final list of recommendations:

O’Connell Middle School: Close and move 7th and 8th graders to Alameda High School. Annual savings $1.3 million, revenue to be determined, $130,916 in one-time costs. (Option 1B in district documents) The proposal  received 13 votes out of 25. An alternative (1A), moving all 6th graders in the Alameda area into O’Connell, received 12 votes. The annual savings of doing that would be only $112,319.

Arvada Middle School: Close and move students to North Arvada Middle. Savings $1.3 million, $2.8 million possible revenue, $65,354 in costs. (Option 3A)

Allendale School: Move all activities into many building from temporary buildings and cottages. Savings $49,095, revenue $300,000, costs $53,000. (Option 4)

Ken Caryl Middle School: Close and move 7th and 8th graders and the gifted and talented program to Deer Creek Middle and close. Savings $1 million, revenue $450,000, costs $70,454. (Option 12)

Pleasant View Elementary: Close and move 6th graders to Bell, preschool to Shelton and other students to Welchester. Savings $463,632, revenue unknown, costs $182,400. (Option 16)

Devinny Elementary School: Move 6th graders to Dunstan Middle School. Savings $25,815, no revenue, $52,050 costs. (Option 17A)

Pennington School: Close and move students to Prospect Valley, Stober and Vivian schools. Also, Wheat Ridge 6th graders would move to Everitt Middle School. Savings $548,423, revenue $2.2 million, costs $49,417. (Option 21B)
Martensen School: The school would be closed and its 6th graders, along with those from Stevens, Molholm and Wilmore Davis, would be moved to Wheat Ridge Middle School. Younger Martensen students would be moved into the three elementary schools. Savings $523,428, revenue $60,000, costs $37,500. (Option 22A)
Manning Schools: Expand to 6-8. Savings $35,954, no revenue, costs $22,745. (Option 24.)
Zerger School: Close school after reassigning K-5 students to other schools; move all 6th graders in the Pomona High School area to Moore Middle School. Savings $350,000, savings to be determined, costs $161,903. (Option 27)

Fitzmorris Elementary School: Close school and reassign students to other area schools. Savings $684,741, revenue $1.5 million, costs $50,296. (Option 29) If the board doesn’t adopt this proposal, the committee is suggesting it consider Option 2, which involves moving Fitzmorris and Swanson preschool students.

Districtwide: Close and demolish up to 120 temporary classrooms at site where temps have less than 92 percent use. Annual savings $442,548, onetime cost to do $758,100.

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