Colorado Board of Education returns control of Adams 14 to superintendent and local school board

Board member Steve Durham called the closure of Adams City High School “inconvenient and harmful to children”.

The options the school board had to choose: reorganize the district, bring in another external public or private manager to manage all or part of the district, convert one or more schools into public charter schools or innovation schools, which would allow more flexibility on the budget and hire teachers, or close schools. In the most extreme example of state intervention, council members could have ordered the district to disband and merge with other districts pending their approval, which was unlikely.

The board also approved motions Thursday requiring the district to come back with an innovation plan for Central Elementary and another separate plan to improve Adams City High School.

District Rock Track

After years of poor academic performance, control of the district was handed over to a private company, Florida-based MGT Consulting, in 2019. After a tough run, the company was let go earlier this year, after the new superintendent of the district accused the company of financial improprieties and bullying behavior – complaints that have been brought to the attention of state education officials.

After the district severed ties with MGT, Superintendent Karla Loria, who was banned from speaking to finance and human resources by the company, took control two months ago and began developing a plan. of improvement. Loria has over 30 years of experience in education, working particularly in so-called remedial schools.

The district sought an outside partner to partially manage and collaborate with the district, a close-knit working-class community north of Denver. Adams 14 hopes to finalize a strategic plan in early fall and appoint an outside partner next month.

“I heard loud and clear the desire from the community to be included in the development of the plan,” said Loria, who told the council that she and her team had successfully rotated around 18 of the 25 schools. under his direction in Houston. “I listened. I will not bring a top-down plan to implement. I will collaborate with stakeholders because it takes time and is essential for the sustainability of improvement efforts.

Loria emphasized that she and the local school board are united and ready to take on the challenge of transforming the district. Adams 14 received the two lowest ratings on the state report card since 2019.

The neighborhood has a long history of struggles

Over 85% of the district is Hispanic/Latino, the vast majority qualify for free and discounted lunch, and over half of the students speak English as a second language – the highest percentage in the state.

About eight in 10 students in Adams 14 do not read at the grade level. Even fewer do math at the school level. Four-year graduation rates are about 15 percentage points lower than the state average. Enrollment has dropped 17% over the past five years. Last year, 34% of Adams 14 students enrolled in neighboring districts or charter schools.

District officials acknowledged the serious challenges the district faced, especially during the past two years of the pandemic, when the district was led by an outside official. However, during the district’s presentation, it was suggested that state officials had selected some data. For example, among Hispanic students, the Adams 14 graduation rate exceeds the state average by 14 percentage points.

commercial city the community opposed the closure of schools

In written comments submitted by the public, students at Adams City High School wrote movingly about the impact of the school closure that educated many of their fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles.

Several noted that there are students whose families depend on them for income and stability, and that they need more support options.

‘I spoke to some kids at school about the situation and asked them what they would do – most of them said they would drop out,’ one 10th grader wrote. “For me, it would impact me because I would find it hard to fit in and lose my motivation because of the new things I have to get used to.”

If the school closed, wrote another, “I would lose motivation and not learn or just find a job after deciding to close, (I) couldn’t go anywhere else due to transportation issues.”

On Thursday, state board members vacillated between offering support to the beleaguered district and chastising district leaders for, in their view, not reflecting enough urgency in their presentation.

“It’s been going on since I arrived here in 1998, every two years it’s not water under the bridge, it’s the bridge under water…we have to do something now,” said Board Member Karla Esser. “What will change now? … How do we heal the whole community so that we are able to create the best possible schooling for these children?

Superintendent Loria answered the question of how to heal. “Listening to them. Listening to the community. The community, the staff, the board want to be part of the solution,” Loria said. “They want to participate in the development of the plan. They want to be part of the redesign and reinvention of schools.

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