Protesters rally against placing 2nd high school on North campus

7:06 PM, Nov 29, 2012   |    comments
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"It is absolutely beneficial for everyone in the district for the buildings to be fully utilized," Tom Boasberg, Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, said.

Boasberg says the district needs to be efficient in the use of its facilities, which is why it is proposing to place a new charter high school, Strive Prep Northwest on the same campus as North High which currently has about 900 students.

"There's plenty, plenty of room at North for North to continue to grow and to thrive," Boasberg said.

But, there is a group of residents calling themselves "Choose North Now" that don't like the idea.

"There have been years and years, decades if you will, of bad decisions not thought through, made by DPS," Renee Martinez-Stone, a member of Choose North Now, said.

Martinez-Stone says North High School has been through too many changes, too many principals, too many program shifts. North High School is in the midst of implementing turnaround reform efforts.

"We're asking for stability," Martinez-Stone said. "We're saying leave the current co-location that's here at North and do not make another change."

Right now, Strive Prep has a middle school program using a separate building on the North High campus. Boasberg says that situation proves that placing a high school program in there would be seamless for North.

"Same kids, same separate building, same separation and it'll work just fine," Boasberg said. "We have over 40 schools in the district that share facilities."

The Strive Prep middle school program would move to the empty Remington Elementary School building. Remington was closed in 2008 after years of declining enrollment.

Strive Prep Founder Chris Gibbons says Remington is too small for the new high school. Gibbons says he just wants a home for his new program.

"The DPS enrollment school choice process goes live on Monday and so now's the time by which families desire and I would argue deserve certainty of where that opportunity is going to be in the future," Gibbons said.

Martinez-Stone worries that eventually North High School will need the space, even though district leaders say that Census data shows that there are fewer school-aged children in northwest Denver than 10 years ago.

"While the total population of students is going down, the percentage that is choosing to stay in traditional neighborhood schools is increasing," Martinez-Stone said.

The school board is slated to address the issue at its Thursday night meeting. The proposal to co-locate Strive Prep at North High School is expected to pass. But, Boasberg says the district will be ready to make changes if needed.

"Should North grow to the point where that sharing is not easy and convenient, then we would find a new location for Strive High School," Boasberg said.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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