DPS parents plan to rally ahead of board meeting to address school closure concerns

The board will now consider consolidating 5 Denver schools instead of 10
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Posted at 4:24 PM, Nov 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-13 19:38:32-05

DENVER — Denver Public Schools is backtracking its proposal to close nearly a dozen schools because of declining enrollment.

The school board will consider consolidating five schools instead of its original list of 10.

Some parents plan to rally to have their voices heard ahead of Monday's meeting, which is when public comment will take place.

The board is expected to make a final vote on Thursday, Nov. 17.

DPS parents plan to rally ahead of board meeting to address school closure concerns

Parent Diana Kessel said she plans to join other DPS parents on Monday.

"It is for declining enrollment, but there's also a lack of transparency. I think that's what's frustrating," Kessel said. "There's just not good enough data specifically for each school."

For Kessel and her family, Palmer Elementary is more than just a school.

"We come here on weekends, on snow days. The kids love going down the slide on snow days. It's just part of that community feeling," she said.

Palmer Elementary was one of the original 10 Denver schools that were in danger of closing due to declining enrollment.

Denver Public Schools is now partially reversing the proposal. Five of those schools have been removed from the list, including Palmer Elementary. Even though it is safe for now, Kessel still has concerns.

"Are we safe until the end of the year? And then do we get the engagement from the community and the support that we need to continue to keep the school open?" Kessel said.

In a letter to parents, DPS Superintendent Alex Marrero said in part,

"One of the most challenging decisions a Superintendent can make is to recommend the consolidation of schools. Right now the impact of declining enrollment is forcing Superintendents across the country to confront this difficult decision. As a Denver resident, I understand the importance and value of neighborhood schools. I know many of our families have roots at schools that span generations. It is unfortunate that these family legacies won’t continue in quite the same way we imagined they would. I also understand these decisions are emotional to many, and there is an immense desire to keep all schools open. While I am deeply thankful to all of you who are being vocal about what you believe and for advocating for your kids and your communities, the educator in me firmly believes in the benefits of unification."

The five schools the board will consider closing include:

  • Denver Discovery School
  • Schmitt Elementary
  • Fairview Elementary
  • International Academy of Denver at Harrington
  • Math and Science Leadership Academy

According to DPS, the five schools received more than two-thirds of the nearly $5 million DPS provides to subsidize the original list of 10 schools.

"For my kid, it's extremely important for her to go to a smaller school. She has the attention, she thrives on it. We're able to walk to the school," Kessel added.

Kessel is hoping the school district will be more transparent with parents moving forward.

"Let us be part of those decisions so we can do what's best for our kids," she said.