Backing away from plans to close five elementary schools, the Jefferson County (Colo.) school board has decided to shutter just one campus.
The Denver Post reports that Pennington, Peck, Stober and Swanson schools, which the district identified last month as candidates for closure, received a reprieve from the school board. The panel did decide to move forward with plans to shutter Pleasant View Elementary in Golden.
The board’s decision comes less than a year after it decided to forgo closing a dozen of the district's 155 schools after parents and neighbors rose up to protest. fiercely to preserve their schools.
Board members made their decision Thursday night after an audience of hundreds spent hours testifying about the value of their neighborhood schools and stayed through midnight to see how the board would vote.
Even though the four schools will remain open, the board cautioned the audience that the district won’t be able to avoid the closure conversation forever. “This will get harder and uglier from here,” Board member Amanda Stevens said.
Jefferson County was considering the school closure as as a way to free up funds and pay more competitive teachers' salaries in the 86,000-student district. Officials had hoped to get those funds from a November 2016 bond and mill levy proposal that would have raised more than $500 million, but voters defeated the proposal.
Tim Reed, executive director of facilities and construction for Jefferson County, said closing the buildings would save $3.5 million a year. He said the schools under discussion were chosen because nearby elementary schools have the space to absorb the displaced students.
Video from KMGH-TV: