By Susana Cordova, DPS Chief of Schools
With the first round choice process complete for fall of 2015, we have seen strong interest in middle schools in the Park Hill/Stapleton Middle School Zone.
On the one hand, we are encouraged to see so many families choosing schools in the neighborhood (just five years ago, for example only 19% of Park Hill families chose the neighborhood middle school and that is now 80%). On the other, we know that many families didn’t get into their first choice school and this has been difficult.
We need to start planning now for 2016 and beyond. For the fall of 2016, we anticipate a similar number of sixth grade students as in the fall of 2015; in 2017, we do expect an increase in numbers of sixth-graders.
For fall of 2016, we plan to allow McAuliffe to grow slightly to meet this increased demand. Venture Prep, located in the Smiley facility, has notified its families that they will need another facility for the fall of 2016 to allow for more middle school seats in the Smiley building.
Over the next several months, we look forward to a community conversation about how to address demand over the long term, including whether to let McAuliffe continue to expand or whether to start a new middle school in the smiley facility to give families more high quality choices and to ensure the long-term success of all middle schools in the region.
It will be interesting to see if Stapleton gets what it wants – a neighborhood, comprehensive middle school – while the rest of the district is subjected to “reform,” i.e., choice and small middle schools mostly DSSTs and STRIVEs.