Board approves new high school

Planned 7-12 facility coming to Jefferson Area

Posted 3/8/15

The Jeffco Board of Education has approved a new 7-12 school for the Jefferson Area, yet some teachers and students are left in limbo.

At the March 5 Jeffco Board of Education meeting, the board approved part of the Jefferson Area Plan. The board …

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Board approves new high school

Planned 7-12 facility coming to Jefferson Area

Posted

The Jeffco Board of Education has approved a new 7-12 school for the Jefferson Area, yet some teachers and students are left in limbo.

At the March 5 Jeffco Board of Education meeting, the board approved part of the Jefferson Area Plan. The board voted unanimously to approve the creation of a new 7-12 high school at Jefferson High School, moving the current seventh and eighth grades from Wheat Ridge 5-8 to the school, and the fifth and sixth grades to Stevens Elementary.

Principal Warren Blair of Wheat Ridge 5-8 said “7-12s are not unusual in many areas.”

He added: “By eliminating one transition, and being able to know the kids from seventh through twelfth grade, and they can see the high school experience — that really helps support this whole piece, of we are a family.”

This move would extend dual language options for students in the articulation area, increase resources for students and teachers, utilize problem-based learning in all classes, allow staff to become a true, heavy professional learning community (PLC) and create more secondary pathways, such as obtaining a certificate of workforce readiness or a seal of biliteracy for students.

“It’s a better opportunity for us to grow there, to get more relationships with the teachers,” said Denise Cortes, a seventh-grader at Wheat Ridge 5-8, of the scholastic and relational opportunities this plan allows for. “It (the idea of the school) was comfortable because it was a family ... I thought that was pretty cool because I wouldn’t run into strangers, and not feel comfortable with them.”

Created by the six principals from the Jefferson articulation area, the $1.6 million plan, which impacts around 2,700 students, was formed to help increase student achievement, self-esteem and connection to school, as well as to increase pre-college and post-secondary options for students.

“For the Jefferson Area, I really believe it’s the right thing to do,” Blair said. “It’s really cost-effective, it’s being good stewards of the money and using the resources that you have to really support our students in the best way we can.”

While this approval creates the new school, the placement of many middle and elementary school teachers and students at Everitt, Manning, Maple Grove, Stevens and the Sobesky Academy hang in the balance, as the board tabled the discussion around a second option, proposed by members of the Wheat Ridge Education Alliance.

The option would move Everitt Middle School into the Wheat Ridge 5-8 campus, Manning Option School into the Everitt campus and split Maple Grove Elementary into two campuses, kindergarten through third grades on site and fourth through sixth grades at Manning Elementary. This option would also hinder the expansion of Stevens Elementary, which will be at capacity with the approved addition of the Wheat Ridge 5-8 fifth- and sixth-graders, and not incorporate the Sobesky Academy into Stevens Elementary.

“Problem No. 1, this limits our ability to offer all the programming we want to offer to the Stevens community, that’s big issue No. 1,” said Chief Effectiveness Officer Terry Elliott. “Big issue No. 2 is it limits our ability to serve our special-needs population because Sobesky is full. We want to give all kids a great education experience and we don’t feel the current Sobesky site offers that to the best of our ability.”

Moving forward, the board asked district staff to arrange community and staff meetings to discuss this second option prior to April’s regular business meeting, where it will make a final decision on the future of those campuses for the 2015-16 school year.

To read more about the plan, visit http://bit.ly/1MFADMg.

For now, students moving to Jefferson are excited, and looking forward to the 2015 - 2016 school year.

“You don’t have to be like that shy person and hold it in,” said Leslie Chavez, a seventh-grade Wheat Ridge student who will attend Jefferson in the fall. “They (Jefferson students) told us to take off our masks and to show who we really are — that’s why I would like to go to Jefferson.”

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