Dear Mr. Newkirk and Mr. Witt,
Once again, right in the middle of open enrollment, you’ve surprised families with a change that drastically affects their choices. Last year, you tried to reverse a decision to offer STEM at Deer Creek Middle. Thankfully, Ms. Williams, Ms. Fellman and Ms. Dahlkemper voted to keep that option for students, and those families were incredibly grateful for that choice and their intervention.
Thursday night, you tried to upend a thoughtful plan for the Jefferson area and some of Jeffco’s most vulnerable students – those attending Sobesky. Your motion to move Everitt from its current location at 39th & Kipling to the Wheat Ridge 5-8 location, just off 38th & Wadsworth, negates Jeffco’s ability to provide immediate capacity relief at Sobesky, upgrade the facilities for those students, and ensure “Jeffco kids have Jeffco seats,” as Mr. McMinimee noted. Do you not agree with Ms. Dahlkemper, who pointed out that Sobesky students deserve the same quality facilities as all students across Jeffco?
Your motion also means Stevens cannot become the proposed PreK-6 campus that is a critical piece of the Jefferson Plan, and is “the best fit for that elementary school,” as Mr. Elliott noted.
In addition, students who have chosen Everitt as their middle school for next year now have to consider the proximity of your proposed new location and how that works for their families. MANY Everitt students currently live close enough to enjoy walking or biking to school. Students who have chosen Manning now have to consider if they still want to attend that school if it is an additional 3 miles east of its current location. Remember – Manning is an Option School. Families must arrange transportation for their students. As with Everitt, MANY Manning students live in Applewood and enjoy walking or biking to school.
Finally, you propose adding an additional 450 seats to Maple Grove – a school that IS NOT FULL. Your proposal MORE THAN DOUBLES capacity at Maple Grove. How will this impact nearby schools, such as Kullerstrand, Stober, Vivian and others? Mr. Elliott says the district has concerns that such a move will add additional enrollment strains to schools already struggling to fill their seats.
In fact, Mr. Elliott said Thursday night, “Sobesky into Stevens gives us some immediate relief next year. Stevens at the Wheat Ridge 5-8 campus gives us the ability to serve all those students in that area and have some room for expansion. That is why that’s the staff’s recommendation.”
But instead of respecting the work of Jeffco staff, you said you wanted to “honor comments from the community.” Why now? Last year, 13,000 community members filled out a budget survey, and you did not honor that. Thursday night, TWO PEOPLE presented this haywire plan, and you’re ready to upend several communities to appease Mr. Nahmiach and Mr. Harr? As Mr. Elliott pointed out, the communities from Everitt, Manning and Maple Grove – not to mention several other elementary schools that will be impacted – have not been engaged at all on this plan, and principals do not support it.
Please rethink this surprise motion. Take it completely off the table.
And if you continue to push this forward, then I hope Ms. Williams, Ms. Fellman and Ms. Dahlkemper will ensure the well-being of Jeffco’s students – especially some of Jeffco’s most at-risk students -and respect the thoughtful planning and collaboration of Jeffco staff and communities, by voting against your motion.
I look forward to hearing back from you.