ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. — Monday marked the first day of school for the Adams 14 school district, the first district in the metro to return to school for the 2023-24 school year.
Superintendent Dr. Karla Loria talked to Denver7 morning anchor Nicole Brady about the challenges the district has faced, and hopes of starting a new chapter this year.
“We are in control of our future, we are in control of making decisions for our students,” Superintendent Loria said.
Adams 14 has faced an uphill battle to regain their autonomy. After years of low performance, the Colorado Board of Education stripped the district's accreditation in 2022. While it was later restored, the district has continued to fight legal battles related to the loss of their autonomy. Superintendent Loria was hired in early 2022 and has made it her mission to return the focus to students.
“I have not been in any school across the nation that is in turnaround because of the students or because of the families, so it was very important for me as superintendent to have a conversation about what we need to own as adults, and how we can move forward to support our students, and that’s what we did,” Superintendent Loria said.
The district is launching several new agenda items this school year. At Adams City High School, incoming freshman will be enrolled in one of four academies, focused on different career pathways. They include engineering and design, health and human services, business and tourism, and digital information and technology. The district’s alternative high school, Lester Arnold, will also offer a pathway to help students enroll in internships and prepare for the workforce. Superintendent Loria said the academies were originally proposed in 2008, but at the time, leadership failed to deliver on that promise.
“In a small district like ours this is very important because we offer choice to our students,” Superintendent Loria said.
For the youngest learners, Adams 14 is also keeping a promise to provide free preschool. This year, the state is providing 15 hours per week of free preschool for 4-year-olds through it’s new UPK (universal preschool) program. Adams 14 decided to make up the difference so all 4-year-olds, and some qualifying 3-year-olds, can attend full day preschool for free.
Adams 14 is also changing it’s bell times this year, starting the school day two hours later on Thursdays to give teachers extra planning time.
The district hopes these changes will be reflected in performance data. The state will release scores from the spring 2023 CMAS tests in mid-August. The state has adopted a new slogan, “I’m a 14-er,” reflecting their uphill climb and goal to reach the summit.
“Initial data is telegraphing that we're going to see progress in many areas, which is not only exciting, but something that I have experienced in other districts and in other schools, when we adults understand we need to really focus on students,” Superintendent Loria said.