So by now you’ve hopefully heard about the Jeffco School Board member John Newkirk’s Jefferson Area “Plan B,” which he introduced (surprise!) in a motion at Thursday night’s meeting. In fact, it was one of a series of motions about the Jefferson Plan—one that took everyone by such surprise that even the board secretary, Marta Neil, had to ask Newkirk to repeat his motion because it wasn’t the motion she’d received in the board notes.
Here were the first motions:
1. Establish a 7-12 Jefferson High School.
2. Move grades 5 and 6 from Wheat Ridge 5-8 to Stevens Elementary.
Both motions passed unanimously.
And then, Newkirk’s third motion:
To move Everitt Middle School to Wheat Ridge 5-8, then move Manning Middle School to Everitt, and split Maple Grove into two schools. Maple Grove grades 4-6 would move to Manning Middle School and grades K-3 would stay at the current site.
The proposal was one suggested by the Wheat Ridge Articulation Alliance but has not been discussed with the Manning or Maple Grove communities, much less the Stevens, Everitt, and Sobesky communities.
District staff immediately pointed out that the third motion would make it impossible to carry out the second motion, because Stevens is already at capacity as a PK-4 school. They would be one classroom short starting out, and wouldn’t have room to grow.
Superintendent Dan McMinimee pointed out the third motion would make it impossible to move Sobesky to a new location and the district would lose both the opportunity bring Jeffco students back to Jeffco, and the opportunity to recoup some of the cost savings that would come with it. The current Sobesky campus is at capacity, resulting in some students being placed out of district. Between 40 to 60 Jeffco students currently placed out-of-district would be able to return. The cost to place a student out of district runs between $60k – $80k.
Julie Williams was obviously surprised by the motion and asked what would happen to Sobesky. Witt said they’d open a north campus. Williams asked where, and Witt dismissed her, saying the BOE would need recommendations from the district. Williams pointed out that a second campus would mean many additional costs, such as an additional principal.
Then she asked Newkirk why he supported the proposal, to which he responded that he wasn’t sure that he did, but thought it deserved a discussion because it had been brought forth by the community. Of note: only two people spoke in favor of this Plan B during public comment, though several spoke in favor of the Jefferson Area Plan.
Staff had also previously discussed the Wheat Ridge Alliance’s proposal but found it to be unworkable.
As a reminder, the proposed plan worked like this:
– Jefferson High School becomes a 7-12 school
– Stevens becomes a PK-6 school and moves to the Wheat Ridge 5-8 campus.
– The 7th and 8th grade GT Center Program moves from WR 5-8 to Everitt Middle School, and allows 6th grade students from Stevens to matriculate to Everitt for 7th or to Jefferson HS as a first priority choice enrollment
– Sobesky Academy moves to the current Stevens campus
The motion was tabled and community meetings have been scheduled. Here are the dates of the community meetings for Everitt, Maple Grove and Manning:
- Monday, March 16th, 6-7 pm., Everitt Middle School
- Tuesday, March 17, 6-7 pm, Maple Grove Elementary
- Wednesday, March 18, 6-7 pm, Manning Option School
Please spread the word, especially if you know families at these schools or families at Stevens and Sobesky, where, as best we can tell, no meetings have been scheduled to discuss how the failure to do anything would impact those school communities.
There’s more to come about Thursday’s board meeting, but we wanted to get the word out about the community meetings. The board is expected to vote on the tabled motion at the April regular meeting.