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Adams 14 reorganization: your questions have answers

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Adams 14 reorganization: your questions have answers

Adams County School District 14 is set to become Colorado’s first district forced to begin the process of reorganization after many years of low performance in the state accountability system.

As the law will be used in this way for the first time, many questions arise as to how it works and what it means. Here we will try to answer some important questions for families.

Will it affect student diplomas, or will it cost less because the district has lost its accreditation?

No. The state accredits counties as part of the state accountability system, but the loss of accreditation does not affect district funding, student diplomas, or a student’s right to enter college or receive a scholarship. Education Department spokeswoman Katie Antes said the loss of accreditation should not hurt students at all. It also does not affect the daily work of the school.

Instead, it is designed to inform the public that this school district has been ineffective, based on state rankings, “too long,” she said.

What is a reorganization and when will it begin?

There are two state laws that determine how to begin reorganization, the process of consolidating, joining, or creating school districts. The one elected by the state council will ultimately require the approval of voters.

The process begins with establishing a committee consisting of council members and parents from the affected areas to review the boundaries of the area. This plan can take various forms, including creating a new district with the same boundaries as Adams 14 (essentially restarting the same district) or allowing neighboring districts to adopt part of the existing Adams 14.

The committee will be formed after the orders of the state council are written out and finalized, which may take several weeks.

Are schools closing?

At the moment, schools are not closed as a result of the decision of the State Council. If the reorganization committee is going to create a plan, it may close schools as part of the change, but is not required to. This process is expected to take a long time and will not be completed before the next school year.

Adams 14 himself, however, is considering closing schools in his plans. On Monday, following a protest by parents, the supervisor devised a plan to close Hanson Primary School and transfer existing students to Monaco in the autumn. Leaders said the proposed closure was necessary because of declining enrollment and to move students from an alternative high school to the Hanson building, where there is a cafeteria and space for more programming, which is not the case in the current building. Ramona Lewis, president of the board, told parents they would need more time to consider options.

Hanson’s closure is just one of many closures or associations of schools proposed in the Estimating Objects for Adams 14 from January 2020.

What about parents who want to send their children to other schools?

Colorado allows open enrollment, and parents always have the right to send their child to any school where there is a place. More than 3,000 students living within Adams 14 are already attending school in neighboring areas.

From the next school year, some families may receive state travel assistance. Details are still being worked out, but the State Board of Education has signed plans develop a grant program to cover transportation costs for families in schools with the lowest success.

How can the community participate in reorganization plans?

First, at least one parent from each of the affected areas – Adams 14, Mapleton, Adams 12 and 27J – must be part of the committee. Parents will be selected by district accountable commissions. Then the meetings of the reorganization committee should be open. Once the committee has a draft plan, it should hold meetings with communities to share the proposal and gather feedback. The committee should take these feedback into account to finalize the plan before sending it to the state for approval.

Once the plan is approved by the commissioner and local school boards it will go to the voters. Ultimately, voters in the affected constituencies involved will have the final say to approve or reject the plan.

Can the district appeal the state’s decision to start reorganization?

While there is no formal appeal process, the district is expected to file lawsuits against government orders. Joe Salazar, an Adams 14 attorney, said he believes the state should have had an out-of-court appeal process for these state council orders. Government officials from education said they did not consider it mandatory.

Will there be a new management company in the area?

As the process of reorganizing the district will take a long time, the government has also passed an ordinance requiring Adams 14 to re-contract with the outside manager. The state administration wants the district to be under full management, as it was when it was run by MGT Consulting, but this time allowing the district to maintain control over its finances.

However, Adams 14 leaders are continuing talks to hire the nonprofit TNTP not as full managers, but under an existing plan to make them partial managers. Now the district prosecutor and other district leaders believe state order from 2018 to compel a superintendent to relinquish authority illegally. In the partial management plan, they would give TNTP full authority over the human resources department, but would not hire or fire staff.

This caused concern to members of the State Council at this week’s hearings. Adams 14 leaders continue to argue that the plan will be enough to carry out the state order. It is expected that this will be another area where the state and the district may diverge.

Yesenia Robles is a reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado, which covers K-12 school districts and multilingual education. Contact Yesenia by phone yrobles@chalkbeat.org.

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