Clear Creek school board briefs

Deb Hurley Brobst
Posted 3/16/21

District expanding preschool King-Murphy Elementary School plans to expand its preschool program in the fall of 2022 in preparation for a statewide mandate for free preschool for 4-year-olds starting …

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Clear Creek school board briefs


District expanding preschool

King-Murphy Elementary School plans to expand its preschool program in the fall of 2022 in preparation for a statewide mandate for free preschool for 4-year-olds starting in the fall of 2023.

Voters last November approved a tax on nicotine sales to pay for the measure, and Becky Dancer, director of teaching and learning, said a second preschool classroom would be added at King-Murphy. The district will hire a preschool director to oversee the program.

The district is looking at adding some before- and after-school childcare, Dancer said at a joint work session between the school board and county commissioners. She added that the district would look at childcare options at Carlson Elementary and Georgetown Community School, though it would need grants to fund any before- and after-school care.

Looking to increase enrollment

Superintendent Karen Quanbeck is on a mission to increase enrollment in Clear Creek schools.

She told the school board and county commissioners at a joint work session on March 11 that the experiential-learning model the district was moving toward for all grades would be enticing to students outside the district in addition to being a benefit to Clear Creek students.

Enrollment in Clear Creek is now at 635, down 80 students from the 2019-20 school year. The large decline is due in part to remote learning thanks to the pandemic.

District officials also attribute the decline to county residents getting older and not having school-aged children, fewer young families moving in because of a housing shortage and some families attending schools outside the district.

The district’s enrollment has continually declined for nearly 40 years from an all-time high of 1,469 in the 1982-83 school year. Quanbeck said 230 students who lived in the county attended schools outside the district last year.

She said families and educators she has talked to at Carlson and King-Murphy elementary schools are interested in more experiential learning.

“This is not just thinking about a field trip at the end of a lesson or unit,” Quanbeck said. “This is big work. This is creating experiences and collaborations inside the classroom or outside the classroom, so students gain a deep understanding of a concept.”

Quanbeck explained that her top priority is to move the faculty forward to create experiential-learning plans.

“We need to have honest and deep conversations with staff about what do we want for kids that will ultimately help increase enrollment,” she said. “I believe it’s the right thing for kids in general. If we do it well and right, it will help increase enrollment.”

Decisions ahead on Carlson and bond

The Clear Creek school board is considering whether to request a bond from voters in November to pay for a makeover for Carlson Elementary School.

The board is expected to address whether to remodel Building 103,the former middle school in Idaho Springs, to create an elementary school or remodel and improve the existing Carlson building. The discussion is set to be part of the April 20 meeting at 6 p.m.

District officials say the cost difference between the two options is a million dollars.

If the district asked for $25 million, the cost in property taxes would be about $13.26 per $100,000 of assessed valuation per year, so the owner of a $350,000 home would pay about $46.41 in additional taxes.

School board members noted that all of the district’s buildings needed additional work, and they wondered how much was reasonable to ask from voters.

“Our needs are so glowingly apparent, and buckets of cash are not equally glowing,” board member Kelly Flenniken said at the March 11 school board work session. “If we don’t succeed (this November), we need to try again.

“I do think that we need to act swiftly. We need to pull a committee together” to see if this is doable.”

District staff will look at the deadlines for putting a measure on the November ballot.

If the district decides to ask voters for the additional money, it will be joining Clear Creek County, which wants to request additional funds for road work, and the Clear Creek Fire Authority, which might also request a bond.

School board members want to meet with county and fire authority officials in the next month to discuss how they could work together to promote those requests rather than making it a competition.

“We don’t want the public to have to choose between roads, the fire department and schools,” Flenniken said.


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