Denver school selection process kicks off with expo

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DENVER -- Some big decision making is underway for families in Colorado’s largest school district.

Thousands of parents and their children packed Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Wednesday night, starting the process of choosing schools for the 2017-18 school year.

All 200 of Denver’s schools were represented at Denver Public Schools’ sixth annual Great Schools Expo. The exposition gives parents and their children an opportunity to find which school is the best fit for them.

“Students can learn if a school is the right school for them or not,” said Brian Eschbacher of Denver Public Schools.

The expo is designed for fifth-graders and eighth-graders heading into middle school and high school. Sharon Elwood’s son, Andrew, is anxious to find a middle school for next year.

“I’m hoping to find some that have things that [Andrew is] interested in and also some that are hopefully not too far away from my house,” Elwood said.

The Elwood family lives in southwest Denver. They were busy walking from booth to booth, speaking with various school leaders and students.

The hope for Andrew is a school with solid math and music programs. Andrew, who succeeds at both, said he wants to be a drummer.

“He likes music,” Elwood said. “Also maybe a STEM school.”

About half of Denver’s schools are broken into zones from where there are several schools to choose.

Every year, families with fifth- and eighth-grade students need to participate to have a selection for the next school year. Parents are asked to make a list of desired schools in order of preference. Some schools fill up fast.

“We’re really proud that last year 85 percent of families received their first choice in the choice system,” Eschbacher said.

The selection process formally opens Jan. 5. Families will have until the end of January to submit their school choice paperwork to the district.