Declining Student Numbers Could Spell Future School Closures

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Though the painful process of making cuts for next school year is likely over, School District 51 says it will probably have to make more cuts down the road. A key factor in those decisions could be enrollment, which has some Redlands parents on edge.

Scenic Elementary mom and PTO President Jenny Hall doesn't have a bad thing to say about her school.

"It's a community that you can't find somewhere else," said Hall. "We're very tight, we're very family oriented, and we have great parent volunteers here."

That's why she hopes things won't drastically change there in the near future.

In a report made to the District 51 School Board Tuesday, district staff identified elementary schools on the Redlands as places that have seen significant drops in enrollment.

"Our demographer shows that that trend is going to continue," said Christy McGee, a spokesperson for School District 51. "That's one of the areas we need to look at and evaluate whether we're using our resources efficiently and what that looks like."

It may be too early to say for sure what that looks like beyond the 2011-2012 school year, but officials say as long as they have to keep making cuts, nothing is off the table -- including the option of closing schools that become too expensive to operate based on the number of students enrolled there.

"It's a big decision," said McGee. "We're not going to take anything like that lightly. It's been our intent and the way we operate to communicate with impacted parties openly and honestly. That would be our goal."

Though no decision about closing schools has been made or carefully studied at this point, Hall says it's fear that lingers in her mind.

"We understand that District 51 had had to make some insane cuts," said Hall. "We know it's not fun and we know they're not liking it. We're just asking they give us an opportunity to see what we can do, see what options are out there before we close a school."

At their next meeting on June 21, district staff and board members will discuss possible cost cutting measures for the 2012-2013 school year, which officials say will likely include some piece of the Redlands enrollment issue. They point out it will be an informal discussion and that no official action will be taken.

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  • by Anonymous on Jun 17, 2011 at 12:33 PM
    The best solution is a mil levy. With everyone property taxes going down, a small levy to keep money flowing to educate our childern wouldn't even be noticed if put in place now. That way everyone pays and our childern reap the benifits!
  • by Crusty on Jun 16, 2011 at 06:21 AM
    The same old story from the liberal nutcases running the show, "Either do it our way, or something really drastic will happen". Here's an idea, zero out the administrative salaries for 2 years and let them live off their savings, home equity loans, etc the same way those who were forced into unemployment while those super talented talking heads in admin figure out how to balance the budget? Better yet, why don't they just admit that they are not qualified to fill the position they are in and let somebody with the brain power to fill in and get the job done? "Those who CAN , Do, those who CAN'T teach, and those who can do neither administrate."
  • by glori Location: Grand Junction on Jun 12, 2011 at 11:16 PM
    noticed in the paper today that the adminstrators and assistants did not get cut. Why would we cut the childrens educational needs and leave people that could be cut. Are they crazy to leave all the adminstrators and assistants in place yet cut educational courses and close schools??? Come on District 51 wake up the tax money is not for you to pad your pockets it is for the children of Mesa County to receive a good education. Three generations of my family paid taxes before me and now two generations of my family after me including me are paying taxes. All I see is money hungry selfish people in charge of our schools. SAD SAD SAD
    • reply
      by Disgusted on Jun 13, 2011 at 08:23 AM in reply to glori
      You should check the political party affiliation of your school board members....perhaps that will give you some clues to the problems....
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 13, 2011 at 10:33 AM in reply to glori
      You are vastly understating the situation when you say: "Three generations of my family paid taxes before me and now two generations of my family after me including me are paying taxes." We are now unable to pay off the debt, so....our leaders have signed up EVERYONE not yet born to pay their perks.
  • by Jill on Jun 10, 2011 at 02:57 PM
    My children went to Scenic until we moved in Feb. to Nebraska, where property taxes are considerably higher and education is funded the way it should be. We miss Scenic a lot - it is a GREAT school and every other option should be considered before closing it, INCLUDING where the Scenic kids would have to go if it did close. Our school here is also open concept, which everyone likes - it fosters great communication between staff, instills a sense of belonging to a community, and helps keep both students and teachers accountable, so I don't know why the district would want to spend $$ remodeling. Scenic has a great culture and environment. It seems that one option to consider would be sending kids from lower functioning, overcrowded schools to Scenic. It just doesn't seem to make sense to close one of the best schools in the valley.
    • reply
      by S on Jun 10, 2011 at 03:57 PM in reply to Jill
      I too would like to see more options other than closing schools down. At Shelledy elementary the administrators are estimating 30 kids per class, but they want to close a school that is less than 5 miles away? How about restructuring the boundaries or opening up school of choice?
  • by Joann Location: Redlands on Jun 10, 2011 at 01:06 PM
    Wrong move in even mentioning closing Scenic down, my grandchildren attend school, it is a WONDERFUL school, where teachers and administrators are there for the children, not just for a job. When are Americans going to realize that cutting education is only putting us in the bottom, compared to other countries who value education. Mr. Superindent, how much money are you making. And to Max, I'm pretty sure that when your children were in school, I din't have children yet, but I still paid, it's an overall effort as long as we're in this country. Maybe that's the problem, we only care about ourselves.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 10, 2011 at 02:19 PM in reply to Joann
      Thanks, you are exactly correct. It's time for everyone to pay up. In fact we need an agency to force people to comply. Maybe if we had some sort of strong armed taxing agency forcing those that made more money to pay up....or if we fooled people into thinking buying a home ment they owned, yet the state could take it if they didn't pay their yearly tithe.
  • by max Location: grand junction on Jun 10, 2011 at 12:47 PM
    The taxpayer can no longer afford to pay for public education, free lunch, free and reduced, counselors, free busing, free sports, free music etc. Have any of you considered paying to educate and care for your own chidren instead of trying to force the old couple next door on social security to pay for your lifestyle. Get rid of the cell phones, X boxes, and cable with movie channels and you can afford to educate and maintain your own children. If you keep voting for politicians who give you stuff, you will destroy this country.
  • by Disgusted on Jun 10, 2011 at 08:21 AM
    Just a few years ago the district was pushing for more money (bond issue) to relieve overcrowding. One new high school, two middle schools and even more new/expanded elementary schools. The numbers they used painted a very bleak picture for our (mine) children. Now, just three years later we have them talking about closing some of the top performing schools in the district. How can they be trusted?
  • by Chuck on Jun 10, 2011 at 08:14 AM
    Scenic is where my son would go to school next fall. I would hate to see it close. We live on that street and I could just watch my son walk to school. I am disabled and unable to work. Having to find transportation for my son and at a school that is further away is not a very good option for us.
  • by district employee Location: gj on Jun 10, 2011 at 08:05 AM
    The rumor is that some administrators even got a raise... while so many lost jobs or are taking a cut in salary. I wish someone would look in to this. Hint!!
    • reply
      by glori on Jun 14, 2011 at 07:00 AM in reply to district employee
      The only raise the adminstration should get is that a few of them atleast should take a permanent hike out the door and it be locked behind them. Education is important but padding the adminstrative pockets of these leaches is not.
  • by Mr T Location: Grd. JCt on Jun 10, 2011 at 07:06 AM
    $750.00 per month car allowance. That is more than a lot of people, whose children go to District 51 Schools can afford in rent and/or house payment. This $750.00 per month car allowance, coupled with the 6 figure salary, is certainly wrong.
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