With multiple schools slated for closure in the Denver metro over the next year, districts are already talking about what to do with the buildings once the kids and teachers are gone.
Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education voted on Nov. 10 to close 16 elementary schools. Denver Public Schools is considering closing five schools. Aurora Public Schools has already begun the process and will close four more schools this year as part of its Blueprint APS plan.
Aurora leaders want the community to weigh in on how to repurpose the buildings. This week the district began a series of meetings on the future of Paris Elementary School and Sable Elementary School.
APS Development Advisor Mackenzie Khan says the community has already offered a lot of feedback through the meetings and an online survey.
“We hear a lot about taking care of our people and our neighbors and just valuing a family friendly atmosphere,” Khan said.
Families have identified child care and affordable housing as two big needs and as two possible uses for the elementary school buildings.
Any development will have to follow city zoning requirements. Paris Elementary is in the Fitzsimmons neighborhood, which is zoned as mixed use. Allowable uses include housing, hospitality, or even marijuana retailers. Sable Elementary is in a residential neighborhood, with more restrictions. Some of the allowable uses include housing or a community center.
The district owns the school buildings and could sell them, lease them, or maintain them for a district use. But Khan said developers bidding for the projects will have to consider community feedback.
Khan hopes engaging families in the process will be something that can help the community move forward.
“We're still dealing with a lot of grief around the closure because nobody wants to close schools," she said.
Jeffco Public Schools spokesperson Kimberly Eloe said the district will start a process in January to engage the community about how to repurpose the 16 elementary schools that are closing. The district owns all of the schools, with the exception of Sheridan Green Elementary, which will revert to the city of Westminster.