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Woodland Park RE-2 Officials Outline Plan to Relocate Middle School Students to High School in the Upcoming Academic Year

Woodland Park RE-2 Officials Outline Plan to Relocate Middle School Students to High School in the Upcoming Academic Year

In a recent communication from Woodland Park School District RE-2 administrators to parents, a new facilities plan has been introduced, sparking concerns among some members of the community.

The district, aiming to optimize the utilization of school buildings amidst declining enrollment, is seeking to enhance the efficiency of building usage by transferring all middle school students from 600 E. Kelley’s Road to the high school. Starting in the fall, seventh and eighth graders will attend classes at the district’s high school, situated just over a mile away from the current middle school. Simultaneously, Merit Academy, currently occupying a section of the middle school, is reportedly set to lease the entire building for the upcoming academic year.

Voices on social media express apprehension about the idea of integrating younger students with their older counterparts at the high school.

Last year, a significant shift occurred when sixth graders were relocated from the middle school to RE-2’s three elementary schools, facilitating additional space for Merit Academy's use during the current school year. This decision prompted protests from numerous students on March 2, 2023.

Notably, Woodland Park High School has a history of accommodating various grade levels, a practice also observed in many charter schools in the region. According to spokeswoman Lindsey Prahl, the high school previously served seventh through twelfth graders. Prahl stated in a letter to the media on Monday that the district is confident that merging the seventh and eighth graders with the high school will present them with new academic and extracurricular opportunities.

Recognizing the gravity of such decisions, the Woodland Park School District assures families that the process is being approached with utmost care and consideration for all students' educational experiences and safety.

Merit Academy has experienced growth, increasing from 331 students in the 2022-23 academic year to 436 students this year, as per Colorado Department of Education enrollment data released last week. In contrast, Woodland Park Middle School witnessed a decline from 391 students in 2022-23 to 255 students this year. The high school also saw a decrease of 38 students this year, resulting in a total enrollment of 534.

Enrollment trends indicate an overall drop of more than 15% in the past five years for RE-2, with a districtwide decline of 107 students this school year, bringing the total district enrollment to 2,015, according to the state education department.

In a recent press release, the district announced Cindy Gannon as the interim principal at Woodland Park High School, but no information was provided regarding the circumstances surrounding the departure of former principal Kevin Burr. The district emphasizes its commitment to providing new opportunities for seventh and eighth graders while assuring parents that decisions are made with careful consideration for the educational experiences and safety of all students.

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