On Wednesday May 28, DPS held a meeting at DSST Stapleton to preview their boundary recommendations to the school board for the Near Northeast (NNE) High School. More than 60 parents and community members listened as Brian Eschbacher, director of planning and analysis for DPS, outlined the following:
1. All Stapleton residents and residents along the “Monaco corridor,” a small chunk of Northeast Park Hill that presently feeds into George Washington High School, will be guaranteed a spot at the NNE HS.
2. 40% of the total school population will be set aside for Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL) spots. This 40% will be made up of (in order of priority):
a. Boundary Students
c. Students in the Far North East (FNE) and Park Hill
d. Students in Denver
3. The remaining seats will go to:
b. FNE/Park Hill residents, regardless of FRL status
c. Denver Residents
At the outset of the meeting, DPS suggested that this was the proposal that would be presented to the board at their upcoming June 2 meeting. Over the course of Wednesday night’s meeting, however, it became clear that there were strong objections to the present proposal.
These objections were voiced most ardently from members of the Boundary Advisory Group (BAG), many of whom felt DPS did not take their recommendations seriously. One member left the meeting midway through, after venting her frustration: “don’t ask for our opinion if you don’t give a sh**!” This BAG member’s disappointment with DPS was echoed by several others, who claimed that their recommendations differed markedly from the present proposal. Specifically, BAG discussed a lower FRL floor and a higher preference for students from the FNE than from Park Hill. BAG members reasoned that since Park Hill students already get priority to enroll in East it is not fair that they should also get a priority at the NNE High School, especially considering there is no comprehensive traditional high school to serve the students in the FNE neighborhoods.
In response, DPS suggested that the 40% FRL floor is a widely adopted percentage and agreed to make the body of research available that indicates the importance of this critical mass. They also reminded parents that students from Park Hill presently share a middle school boundary with Stapleton students so prioritizing Park Hill residents is an effort to secure a so-called “matriculation pattern,” preserving the bonds that students make early in their educational lives.
Running nearly a half an hour over the allotted hour and a half meeting time, the boundary discussion came to a close with Mary Seawell, former school board president and chair of the BAG, suggesting that the committee meet once more before the school board convenes on June 2.