DENVER — Parents spoke out Monday night at a Denver Public Schools meeting to discuss proposed school closures.
Monday's public comment session started at 4:30 p.m. It's expected to go past midnight, because more than 180 people signed up to speak.
The new proposal will be presented to the DPS board for a vote on Thursday.
The proposed closure list includes these five schools:
- Denver Discovery School in Central Park
- Schmitt Elementary in Ruby Hill
- Fairview Elementary in Sun Valley
- International Academy of Denver at Harrington in Clayton
- Math Science Leadership Academy in Athmar Park
Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero said moving students to bigger schools will improve their experience. Most parents at Monday's meeting disagreed. No one who spoke seemed to support the closures.
"What I have heard is common themes," one parent said. "We all want what is best for our children. We all want transparency from DPS. We all want DPS to listen to us."
If the board votes to close the five schools, roughly 600 students will be impacted.
Many families came to the meeting to fight for smaller classrooms.
"These small groups and intimate class sizes allow for deeper bonds and greater trust and produce less stress on our educators," another parent said.
Auon’tai Anderson, Vice President of the DPS Board of Education, said on Monday he will be a "proud no vote" on Thursday.
The other board members didn't share their positions during the public comment, but they were openly skeptical of the proposal to close 10 schools earlier this month.
The current plan for Thursday is for the school board to vote "yes" or "no" on closing the five schools. If the board votes no, Marrero will ask the board what the next steps should be.
DPS said the new list "prioritizes five schools that have received the largest budget assistance." The district said those five schools account for more than two-thirds of the nearly $5 million that DPS provides to subsidize the original list of 10 schools.
"DPS allocates $7.5 million dollars annually to subsidize small schools," Marrero said in a letter to the community. "Five million of those dollars support the 10 small schools included in the recommendation. This means we take $5 million each year from other DPS schools, students and programs to subsidize these small schools."
DPS expects to be in a deficit of more than $35 million over the next three years.
DPS spokesperson Scott Pribble said the other five schools on the original list could still be considered for closure in the future, but they won't be included in Thursday's vote.
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