Today, our communications team sent out the following letter to the Jeffco community regarding school closures. I’d welcome your feedback and thoughts.
August 25, 2017
Dear Jeffco Students, Families, Staff, and Community,
In my brief tenure as Superintendent of Jeffco Public Schools, I have worked to get up to speed on a number of pressing issues facing our community. One issue discussed last spring was the possible closure of several elementary schools.
Decisions around closing schools are never easy. Certainly, there are considerations around building age, available space, and financial impacts which must be considered. But the factors which go into the decision of closing a school are far deeper than just the numbers.
Schools are at the heart of communities and serve as gathering places where families build lifelong friendships, solve community concerns, celebrate together, and grieve together. Here in Jeffco, many of our schools have deep ties which stretch back (and forward) decades – where generations of families have memories, connections, and dreams for the future. Any conversations about closing schools must consider both responsible and efficient use of public funds and facilities – but also the larger community needs and values.
I believe in and value all of our schools and understand the disruption which occurs in a community when a school is closed. Toward that end, it is important that we are deliberate and thoughtful about school closures. This begins with an intentional effort to ensure we have done all we can to help every school be a thriving, positive, and quality option for families.
Barring any drastic, unforeseen changes in school funding or our current situation, I feel we can take time to carefully consider this issue. Therefore, I am hereby notifying the Jeffco community that my administration will make no recommendations on closing any neighborhood school until the 2019-20 school year, at the earliest.
This will allow us the time to work with all our school communities to offer attractive and quality programs, consider equity concerns, and partner with other community organizations to use available space to provide important services and supports to our Jeffco families.
To be clear, I am not saying school closures are off the table going forward. There are situations and circumstances where that is a necessary outcome. However, unless we have really given every school a reasonable chance and the necessary support to succeed, it just doesn’t sit right with me.
Further, when and if we come to the place where we must seriously consider closing a school, this decision should be reached in partnership with the affected community. Toward that end, we are re-evaluating our processes and practices relating to school closure recommendations and communications and will work with a cross-section of our community to develop a thoughtful and respectful approach to school closures.
On behalf of all of us with Jeffco Public Schools, thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve your family and this wonderful community.
Jason E. Glass, Ed.D.
Superintendent & Chief Learner
Jeffco Public Schools