Jefferson County board spares 4 elementary schools from chopping block

GOLDEN, Colo. -- The Jefferson County Public Schools board voted early Friday morning to only close one of five proposed schools from the chopping block after a public meeting that lasted several hours.

The five schools under consideration for closure beginning in the 2017-18 school year were Peck Elementary School (6495 Carr St. in Arvada), Pennington Elementary School (4617 Independence St. in Wheat Ridge), Pleasant View Elementary School (15920 W. 10th Ave. in Golden), Stober Elementary School (2300 Urban St. in Lakewood) and Swanson Elementary School (6055 W. 68th Ave. in Arvada).

All but Pleasant View will remain open for now. Still, closing Stober Elementary School would have saved the district the most money and board members said unless something changes, they're going to face the same fight next year.

Thursday's meeting began at 6 p.m. and didn't wrap up until 1:30 a.m. Friday. About 150 students and parents signed up to speak in front of the board.

"You know, its bittersweet. Not today, but like they’re saying -- it’s still a fight," parent Debbie Phillips said. "I can’t feel happy for us. And not, I mean I feel sad for all of us. Because like I said, tomorrow’s another day. We didn’t get it today, but we face a lot of challenges in this district."

"I think it’s been made very clear to us that we have to step up and we have to be a huge voice and brainpower behind what’s going to save our school," said Carly Gordon, whose children attend Stober.

The board also considered to reduce funding for Wheat Ridge High School’s Gifted and Talented Center but opted against that.

The board said it needs $20 million to $25 million to increase teacher pay. The district pays its educators $10,000 to $15,000 less than other districts in the Denver metro area. The board said in order to recruit and maintain quality teachers, the district must increase salaries.

 In November, voters failed to pass a $535 million bond issue and a $33 million mill levy to help offset budget issues.

The budget will be finalized May 9 and the students of Pleasant View will attend other schools next year.