During the course of the district’s engagement with the Five Star community in developing the boundaries for the new Thunder Vista P-8 in Broomfield, various broader themes emerged for consideration.
A summary of these themes, some further analysis the district has done, and LRPAC’s response to various options that could be considered in relation to these themes is outlined below.
Summary of Themes:
- Theme #1 – Split Feeder Patterns
- Theme #2 – Long Bus Rides
- Theme #3 – Legacy High School Overcrowding
- Theme #4 – Potential of Continued Overcrowding
- Theme #5 – Small Size of the Middle School at Thunder Vista P-8
Theme #1 – Split Feeder Patterns
Explanation: Comments and questions came up in regard to the district’s feeder patterns. Overall, there is a community interest in cleaner feeder patterns at each level. Currently, there are several split feeders across the entire district; there are 10 elementary schools and 6 middle schools with split feeder patterns.
Specifically, during this particular boundary process, some community members expressed concern about the continued split feeder for Meridian students as they transition to middle school. Students at Meridian transition to either Rocky Top or Westlake, depending upon where they live. We heard feedback that, due to the long bus rides and split feeder, community expressed desire to have all students from Meridian attend either Westlake or Thunder Vista and not be split between two schools. We also heard a similar concern regarding Rocky Top middle school students that, as they transition to high school, some student’s transition from Rocky Top to Horizon, while others transition to Legacy.
District Follow Up: The district examined current Meridian enrollment information according to the current middle school boundaries and compared that to the proposed boundaries (Elementary Scenario B). Under current boundaries, 51 percent (398 of 782) of Meridian students reside in the Rocky Top boundary and 46 percent (363 of 782) reside in the Westlake boundary. Under the proposed boundaries, 35 percent (220 of 603) of Meridian students will reside in the Rocky Top boundary and 60 percent (362 of 603) will reside in the Westlake boundary. It is important to note that there are other split feeder patterns in schools across the district; there are 10 split feeder patterns at elementary schools as student’s transition to middle school and 6 split feeder patterns at middle schools as student’s transition to high school.
Option 1: Consider a scenario that would send the majority of students from Meridian to Westlake or one that would send them to Thunder Vista.
(Note: This options puts Westlake and Thunder Vista over target enrollment as early as Fall 2018)
Option 2: Allow for some preferred choice to Westlake for students from the north central rural residential area, Huntington Trails, Lexington, and McKay Shores.
(Note: This option needs more time for consideration given split feeder patterns across many schools in Adams 12)
Option 3: (Recommended Option) Acknowledge the concern and ask the superintendent and staff to include a conversation about feeder patterns (elementary to middle and middle to high) across the district, as part of analysis that is completed during the creation of a long-term district build out plan.
Theme #2 – Long Bus Rides:
Explanation: Comments and questions came up both verbally and in writing that there are students in the north central rural residential area (Lowell to Huron, 144th to Northwest Parkway) that are on the bus for 45-55 minutes in the morning and afternoon to and from Rocky Top.
District Follow Up: The district has examined the length of bus rides for students attending Rocky Top from this part of the boundary area.
Option 1: (Recommended Option) Investigate the possibility of reducing the number of bus stops or adding a bus route to increase efficiency and decrease bus ride time for these students.
Option 2: Investigate the feasibility of a boundary change for the area to Thunder Vista or Westlake.
(Note: This options puts Westlake and Thunder Vista over target enrollment as early as Fall 2018)
Theme #3 – Legacy High School Overcrowding
Explanation: Comments and questions came up in regard to the fact that Legacy High School is crowded and now running classes in mobiles.
District Follow Up: The district is currently working on two 2016 Bond Program projects that will provide some relief to Legacy High School’s crowding. The new Career Technical Education Center, planned for a location in the central or northern portion of the district, will provide relief by drawing students away from the building during part of the school day. The second, is the exploration of a K-12 STEM school in North Park, Broomfield through a public-private partnership that would provide additional relief for Legacy’s enrollment. If the school in North Park does not attract enough private donors to be viable, the district will consider repurposing the seed money identified in the 2016 bond to an addition at Legacy High.
When considering longer-range build out, the district staff has also identified the need to consider high school overcrowding in the northern part of the district at-large, not just at Legacy High School. LRPAC will discuss the long-range build out plan in coming months, which will also determine how best to respond to the feedback we’ve received about high school boundaries and overcrowding, especially at Legacy.
Option 1: Move forward with currently planned projects that will provide relief to Legacy: K-12 school in North Park & new CTE campus. After projects are complete, reevaluate Legacy crowding to determine if additional measures are necessary to alleviate further crowding
Construct an addition at Legacy High to increase the school’s capacity to 2,500-2,600 students.
Option 2: Ensure that the high school expansion need is addressed in the build-out plan that LRPAC will create over the next 12 months.
Recommendation to the Superintendent Regarding Theme #3 – At this time, LRPAC recommends that the superintendent continue the exploration of a K-12 school in North Park and include high school growth as part of the district’s build-out plan.
Theme #4: Potential of Continued Overcrowding
Explanation: Comments and questions came up in regard to the potential of continued overcrowding at Meridian, Coyote Ridge and Rocky Top if Thunder Vista students at all grade levels are allowed to choose to remain at their current school rather than attend Thunder Vista in the 2018-19 school year.
District Follow Up: District staff is currently working on the Thunder Vista enrollment processes and will ensure that this community concern is part of their planning. This issue, along with other Thunder Vista enrollment processes will be discussed at the optional LRPAC special topics session in November. In preparation for that meeting, the district has created the following option for LRPAC’s consideration in November.
Option: Follow Thunder Vista enrollment process (Click)
Recommendation to the Superintendent Regarding Theme #4 – Manage Thunder Vista enrollment as outlined in enrollment process document to ensure class size at elementary schools is not above district thresholds.
Theme #5: Small size of the middle school at Thunder Vista K-8
Explanation: Comments and questions came up in regard to the Thunder Vista middle school enrollment not being large enough to provide substantive relief to Rocky Top and Westlake as well as offer a full palette of middle school programming.
District Follow Up: P-8 schools, by nature, offer a smaller middle school experience for students and differ from larger, more traditional middle school settings. Below are some important facts about 6th-8th grades in a P-8 setting:
- The new school in the Anthem community was originally planned to be an elementary K-5 school. Given the large enrollment numbers that currently exist at Rocky Top, the district chose to secure land and plan a large enough building to support a P-8 school. This decision was made, not only in service to the Anthem community, but also in the interest of addressing the middle school overcrowding that is occurring in the northern part of the district.
- A four round 6-8th grade allows us to offer all core and elective classes (Math, English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Art, Music and Physical Education)
- Final elective offerings will be determined after multiple community engagement sessions. The new school will receive allocations to provide PE, Art and Music, just like other schools in Adams 12, but other potential electives will be determined through a community engagement process in the spring.
- The average number of middle school students at other district K-8 schools (STEM Lab, STEM Launch and Hulstrom K-8) is about 260 students. Most middle schools at a P-8, run four rounds, as is currently planned at Thunder Vista. This allows for about 120 students per grade level at 6th, 7th and 8th grade and usually leads to an enrollment range of 300 to 400 students in these three grades.
- There is not necessarily an ideal middle level enrollment number. Instead, what matters is the intentional planning, commitment and culture that a strong staff creates for kids, in partnership with families.
- The district and LRPAC were pleased to forward middle school boundary scenario D, which not only supports decreased enrollment at Rocky Top by shifting students to Thunder Vista but also supports middle school enrollment from the Wildgrass community at Westlake. The district and LRPAC are reviewing the feedback about the middle school scenarios closely.
Recommendation to the Superintendent Regarding Theme #5 - Small size of the middle school at Thunder Vista K-8: The district should take next steps to support our community with understanding the difference between a more traditional middle school and a middle school within a P-8 school. These facts above are helpful and should be used in this process.