DENVER — Students from Abraham Lincoln High School protested a plan Thursday that would add a middle school into their building next school year.
Denver Public Schools Board of Education approved the new middle school at a board meeting Thursday night. The school is part of a plan to improve education for middle school students in southwest Denver. But students, teachers and the district cannot agree on where it should be located.
“We the students of Lincoln High School oppose the idea of putting a middle school in our high school,” said junior Carlos Martinez during a protest.
Martinez is one of about 75 students who attended the DPS board meeting to express concern over the proposed middle school. The middle school will serve an area of southwest Denver where the current middle schools are underachieving. Under the proposal, the middle school and high school would co-exist in the same building.
Students and staff members pointed to overcrowding as the main reason for opposing a common building. In a student-run survey of 500 Lincoln High students, 85 percent of the students said they are late to class and have problems because of overcrowding.
“During passing periods we are bumping into each other, stepping on each others' shoes and tripping over one another just to get to our next class,” Martinez said.
Teachers also complain about having to share classrooms.
“Last year I had to share my classroom with a math teacher and it was really awkward, the transitions. And I really felt bad for the kids. When the math teacher came in she just wasn’t ready,” language arts teacher Jocelyn Palomino said.
To make room, a special education classroom is now taught in a converted bathroom.
“The educational quality is substandard when you have teachers sharing a room,” Palomino said.
DPS Superintendant Tom Boasberg said he is glad to see the students are passionate about their school but still sees Lincoln High as a good option for the new middle school.
“Lincoln, as we look at it next year, will have 500 fewer kids than it had five or six years ago,” Boasberg said. “So I certainly appreciate the students' concerns, but there is absolutely room at Lincoln for a middle school.”
There are several other middle schools as high school hybrids in Denver. DPS said they are all successful, positive and safe learning environments.
The board will vote in October on the final location of the new middle school.