Parents appeal decision not to designate feeder for option school

Request, if granted, could spur similar requests from Golden, Wheat Ridge schools

Posted 9/16/19

Neighboring schools Maple Grove Elementary for kindergarteners through fifth graders and the Manning School of Academics and Arts for sixth through eighth graders are at odds over a decision on …

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Parents appeal decision not to designate feeder for option school

Request, if granted, could spur similar requests from Golden, Wheat Ridge schools

Posted

Neighboring schools Maple Grove Elementary for kindergarteners through fifth graders and the Manning School of Academics and Arts for sixth through eighth graders are at odds over a decision on school enrollment from Superintendent Jason Glass.

The schools, located in Golden, sit next door to one another on Alkire Street; however, Maple Grove does not feed directly into Manning, an option school.

With some believing the neighborhood elementary school should be a feeder for Manning, community members and Manning's Parent Partnership Committee met back in 2018 to discuss the enrollment pattern, which is based on a lottery system.

Based on the committee's recommendations, Glass made a decision to change the system, by extending priority to siblings not only of seventh and sixth graders at Manning, as in previous years, but also of outgoing eighth graders.

However, the change still did not prioritize acceptance of Maple Grove students, who will continue to have an equal chance of getting into Manning as other district students do.

Maple Grove parents came to the school board's Sept. 5 meeting to request an appeal of Glass's decision, as Maple Grove children “are disproportionately affected” by rejection from Manning as compared to other students, according to former Maple Grove principal Ian Stone.

The parents said that because the majority of Maple Grove students matriculate to Manning, students who are not accepted become separated from their peer group and face a greater emotional impact than other students do.

According to data from the Manning School, 88%, or just over 40 of Maple Grove's fifth graders, applied to Manning for the 2019-2020 school year.

Kyffin, Prospect Valley and Ralston elementary schools saw similar numbers of Manning applicants. However, at each school less than 70% of fifth graders applied to Manning.

Parents also presented data from the "2019 Survey of 5th Grade Parents for Continuation." According to the data, every Jeffco middle school will have five or fewer sixth graders from Maple Grove this year, as opposed to the 34 at Manning.

“We are only talking about a small number of children,” said Danielle Piper, chairperson of Maple Grove's school accountability committee.

The accommodation for Maple Grove students “will have very little impact on the enrollment process but a comparatively large impact” on Maple Grove students who would otherwise be rejected from Manning, she said.

She and her fellow parents pointed to other district examples of schools feeding into option schools, such as Dennison Elementary, which feeds into D'Evelyn Junior/Senior High.

But Glass and board members said that, though there may be some similarities between the two situations, no situation quite like this one exists in Jeffco.

“The difference is that those schools wanted that connection,” Glass said of D'Evelyn and Dennison. But “in this case, we're seeking an imposition to Manning, (which) does not wish to have that preference.”

Further, board member Amanda Stevens suggested that, if the board were to overturn the decision and make an accommodation for Maple Grove students, it would create “a situation in which we may overstep our role as a governing body.”

She suggested the district instead look into writing a district-wide policy to address this issue and any similar ones in the future.

The board has yet to decide whether to hold a formal vote on overturning Glass's decision. Should the board choose not to vote, Glass's decision would not be overturned, but that does not "mean we have not heard" the parents, said board president Ron Mitchell.

Conversely, if board members decide it is necessary to vote on the decision, the vote would take place at the regular meeting on Oct. 10.

Meanwhile, Manning principal Jeena Templeton urged the board not to overturn Glass's decision, as it reflects the input of the entire community, she said.

“We understand the desire to have (students) ride their bikes to school and matriculate from elementary school to middle school with their friends,” she said. But with an equal lottery, Manning “does not have to choose one family's reason for choosing Manning as more important than another.”

She added that other nearby schools, such as Prospect Valley located less than two miles from Manning, have said they would attempt to make similar requests should Maple Grove's be granted.

“It threatens our status as a true option,” she said. And should the board overturn the decision, “I believe it would be very difficult for the relationship between the Maple Grove community and the larger Manning community to heal.”

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