What was the outcome of middle school choice in the Stapleton/Park Hill shared boundary?
A year ago at this time, anxious parents were just starting to hear about middle school options for Stapleton and Park Hill for fall 2014. The concept of a shared boundary was just starting to emerge at a series of community meetings and people were struggling to understand how it would work.
Parents expressed concerns about middle school aged kids crossing Quebec. And if students got placed at a more distant school, parents would lose the chance to walk to school with their children, or let them ride their bikes, which they expected when they moved near a neighborhood school.
But the waiting and wondering how the shared boundary system would turn out is over. Students and parents may be anxious about the transition from elementary to middle school, but they had five options to choose from and 98 percent will be attending their first choice school.
Superintendent Tom Boasberg says, “Other than seven students who did not get DSST as their first choice, every other rising 6th-grader in the enrollment zone got their first choice for an enrollment zone school.” He adds that there were also four special needs students who didn’t get their first choice, but that is because they need to be matched with the schools that can best serve their disability.
The Front Porch asked Boasberg what his goals were for the Stapleton/Park Hill shared boundary and whether they were achieved, based on the choice numbers.
His first goal was to “serve well” all kids in the shared boundary with high quality schools that represent the diversity of the community. “You’ll see in each of the schools very good cross representation from Stapleton and Park Hill, so we’ll see high quality diverse schools throughout the shared boundary.”
His second goal was to have high quality schools that will attract and keep families in the Denver Public Schools. “We were pleased to see how many 5th grade families who live in Park Hill or Stapleton but don’t go to Denver Public Schools for 5th grade will be coming to us next year for 6th grade—45 students.”
Third, Boasberg says, “We’re glad such an overwhelmingly high percentage of families got their first choice.”
Stapleton will have 18 kindergarten classes in the fall. At 25 per class, that’s approximately 450 students. Asked if he is concerned about middle school capacity in the future, Boasberg says, “We know the bubble is coming and we’re prepared for it and there are going to be plenty of seats to meet that bubble.
McAuliffe principal Kurt Dennis says the shared boundary succeeded in giving kids more and better options; breaking down the barrier along Quebec and integrating kids from all over NE Denver in middle schools, and expanding capacity to meet upcoming growth. “Seeing over 200 of the seats were filled by non-boundary kids would say that there is plenty of capacity for the immediate future.” But, he adds, “I’d love to compare the pie charts year over year to see how they shift based on the growth of Stapleton.”
Dennis also pointed out the number of Stapleton girls at Bill Roberts and Discovery, “which creates an interesting mix as far as gender ratios. How that affects school culture could be a great thing or it could be a challenge. It’s interesting, that’s for sure.”