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If you haven’t heard, there is a lot of turmoil in northwest Denver because the district is considering opening a West Denver Prep high school in the North High School building.  I need to point out that there is currently a West Denver Prep middle school collocated there that we, the democratically-elected board, never voted to approve.  We in southwest Denver know a little about the proposed co-location of a school in our high school buildings (paid for by YOU),  and I thought I would share a communication going through the community now. Please share and show your solidarity with northwest Denver by speaking up on their behalf!  –Andrea

Hi, friends, many of you may know by now that Denver Public Schools (DPS) is proposing to colocate a West Denver Prep high school in North High School.

There are many reasons why this co-location is not a good idea, many of them summarized in a letter by our city elected officials (City Council members Susan Shepherd, Paul Lopez, Judy Montero and Debbie Ortega) who oppose the colocation. State Senator Lucia Guzman and State Representative Crisanta Duran oppose the colocation as well. You can read this letter on Councilwoman Montero’s Facebook page.

The primary reason that current, prospective and former North students and family are opposed to the colocation is this: After year after year of constant change and turmoil, North finally has a principal in place with a proven track record (she has led the successful turnaround at Skinner Middle School) and who in her first year at North has already helped set the school and its students on a path to academic growth:

  • After only 9 months, NHS is outperforming the rest of DPS in geography, biology, algebra and geometry!
  • Both current and prospective North students and parents want to see this success continued.

I’ve heard some people ask: Why is co-location a big deal anyway? If North space isn’t currently filled to the max, why not? Here are some answers from both a North High student and from my friend Renee Martinez Stone that made a lot of sense to me.

From Helene, a North High student: 

As a North High School student, I would like to inform you of our current situation. For a while now, we have been sharing our campus with West Denver Prep (WDP) middle school. They are currently in the old science wing, and we are using the rest of the school. Now, WDP is opening up a high school, and personally, I see nothing wrong with this except for one big problem; they want to use the building that the North students are currently occupying.

The cons far out-weigh the pros of this situation. For starters, we would have to share our library, cafeteria, and auditorium with not one student body, but two. Not only do they expect us to share these already crowded spaces, but we are not allowed to co-mingle. This means that we would have to have specific times that each student body to use these spaces. You’re probably wondering, “Why is this bad?” Well, let’s say that I have a paper due and I need to use the library after school, but WDP students are the only ones allowed in there at the time. That leaves me with either having to walk to the library or have a late paper, and neither one of those alternatives sound very pleasant to not only myself, but the rest of the North student body.

Another one of the more prominent arguments is that North is just starting to turn around and increase a more positive reputation, and having to co-locate is putting a road block on our path to a successful, traditional high school. If there are two student bodies, we will both have to put a cap on our enrollment eventually. As an involved student, I would like to see North have a waiting list one day, and see our school at full capacity. Not only that, but I also respect WDP enough to say that I would like to see them expand as well, but they cannot if they have to share a building with us. We both need room and time to grow, and I am positive that we can if just given the chance. WDP has the option to use either the Remington building, or the Lutheran High School building.

From Renee Martinez Stone:

Here are 3 reasons why it is NOT good for North:

Transforming a school, aka bringing many kids who walk in the door below grade level to proficiency or above is one immediate goal at North. The entire school is working towards this goal which means there needs to be pull-outs and supports for students struggling in math, reading, writing, extra support for language learners, support for students struggling with homework, attention and time to immediately regain time lost with tardies or absences….all of this takes space!! Students transitioning from below proficiency to above need full access to the library and school resources b/c every day of the school year is needed. The DPS capacity formula fills every classroom with 25 kids. Any school operating at capacity does not have room for the services, let alone the amount of services needed to ‘Change’ the academics and culture of a school.

The above is priority one, but also there is the that fact that North is a rising 90% free and reduced lunch need (FRL) and WDP is 92-94% FRL. Amazing and wonderful kids with ambition and the right to all that DPS can offer, but DPS can offer a more integrated/diverse school environment and according to every study I have read…they should because it is better for the students. A co-located North creates a segregated environment with hardly any additional room for growth or a more integrated school environment! In my opinion, this isn’t acceptable when there are other buildings and options available.

DPS projections for the number of students returning to NW middle schools are low and in some cases choice #s for next year were 50% higher than projections (that doesn’t even include students who didn’t realize you need to choice into your neighborhood school). The numbers for North High presented by DPS at the 5/16 community meeting showed minimal to NO enrollment change for North for up to 4 years. This just doesn’t match with real middle school increases…particularly if North can stay on its current trajectory AND have room to grow.

So if you agree that this is NOT a good idea, here are 4 things you can do NOW:

1. Go to this website, sign the petition to save North and forward it petition to your family, neighbors and friends http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/choose-north-now.html

2. Like the Choose North NOW Facebook Page and share it with your family, neighbors and friends – www.Facebook.com/ChooseNorthNow

3. Email Tom Boasberg and the School Board TODAY and let them know you are against co-location of West Denver Prep at North High School, you are a registered voter and taxpayer,  and that you want them to respect what our community feels is best for our neighborhood school. Here is their contact info:

Tom Boasberg – DPS Superintendent – THOMAS_BOASBERG@dpsk12.org  Phone – 720-423-3300

DPS School Board:

Mary Seawell           Mary_Seawell@dpsk12.org

Happy Haynes         Happy_Haynes@dpsk12.org

Nate Easley, Jr.       Nate_Easleyjr@dpsk12.org

Anne Rowe              ANNE_ROWE@dpsk12.org

Arturo Jimenez          jimenez.arturo72@gmail.com (Please thank him for his support)

Jeannie Kaplan          Jeannie_Kaplan@dpsk12.org (Please thank her for her support)

Andrea Merida           Andrea_Merida@dpsk12.org (Please thank her for her support)

4. Join your friends and neighbors at the Thursday, June 14, 5:00 pm DPS School Board Public Comment Session:  Wear purple, and sign up to speak (if you wish) or simply be there to provide support for North.  DPS Admin Bldg., 900 Grant Street, Denver, CO 80203.  To sign up to speak, please call the Board Office at 720-423-3210 or email board@dpsk12.org by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13.

Thank you for your consideration of all of this. I am really taken by the community’s commitment to making North succeed as a high quality comprehensive high school and hope you will join me in supporting Choose North NOW.