School board fails to reach number of votes needed to close Wyatt Academy

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Posted at 9:18 AM, Feb 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-14 00:31:04-05

DENVER — The Wyatt Academy Board of Directors on Tuesday failed to reach the necessary number of votes needed to close the school.

Board members voted 5-4 to close the school, but a 60% threshold (six votes) was needed. Since the vote did not reach the threshold, the school will remain open.

The board, citing low enrollment, declining birth rates and years of limited funding, planned to close the school and partner with University Prep, another tuition-free charter school less than two miles away.

Wyatt Academy Principal Melody Means on Tuesday presented possible solutions to the problems outlined by the board. She created a budget that she said would provide the school with a way forward without the need for closure.

"I'm doing the best I can to show that our options are not exhausted, that we still have things that can keep us running if we have the right people at the table that are ready to work," Means said.

The principal said recruiting talented teachers should be a priority.

"The budget allows for about a 13% raise to be competitive with [Denver Public Schools]. This will allow for teachers to be competitively paid and highly qualified," Means said.

She also said the budget allows the school to build out its Spanish programming for all students as well as one-day-a-week gifted and talented programming.

The board of directors agreed that recruiting talented teachers would help drive Wyatt Academy's longevity. To accomplish that, the board proposed several initiatives:

  • Partnership with Clara Brown Commons. 76 families live in the apartment building and encouraged to attend Wyatt Academy.
  • Partnership with Vive school and migrant families to allow for Venezuelans to attend Wyatt Academy with the support of Venezuelan teachers who will be compensated by Vive-certified teachers.
  • Collaboration with French-American schools to figure out a way to share teachers and space. This could yield up to $300,000 in yearly rent.
  • Use the summer to distribute flyers and attend family events to promote Round 2 School Choice when Wyatt Academy has historically gained the most students.

Means did express frustration about only having three days to come up with a budget.

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Students, teachers, parents and community members gathered for a celebratory rally outside of the school Tuesday afternoon, expressing their relief at the board's vote following weeks of uncertainty.

"This is an amazing school. This is where we wanted to be," said mother Julie Huanta. "So, I haven't slept the last two weeks. We've been here. And this is just amazing that we can still remain here."

Means told the rally crowd that the school is open, but that they "have work to do" to keep it open. Fundraising and increased enrollment will ensure Wyatt Academy can operate long-term. Parents who spoke to Denver7 said they are willing to put in the work to help if it means keeping their kids in the school they love.

"We recognize that there is an uphill battle we have to fight, but the fact that they're giving us the chance to fight is all we were asking for," said Wyatt Academy mom and math teacher Jessica Wood. "This is a school where you wear many hats, but it is worth wearing all the hats."

School board fails to reach number of votes needed to close Wyatt Academy

Following the vote, an email was shared with Denver7 appearing to announce the resignations of the five members who voted to close the school — Katie Brown, Amy Younggren, Brandon De Benedet, Tyler Lane, and Harsha Sekar. At the community rally Tuesday afternoon, attendees cheered as the announcement was shared by organizers.

Denver7 reached out to the five board members for comment but had not heard back as of press time.

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