19-student Glade Park school opts to close

After two years as a District 51 school and two years as a district charter school, Glade Park Community School will close next month.

Diane Branham, one of four Glade Park moms who spent two years trying to convince the district to open an elementary school in the small town atop Colorado National Monument, said enrollment and the state dollars that come with it had not increased enough in recent years to properly fund the school. Glade Park Community School began with nine students in fall 2009. Enrollment climbed as high as 22 students last school year but is down to 19 students this school year. Branham said the worst case scenario for enrollment in 2013-14 left the school with only a dozen students.

“We need 25 to 30 students,” she said. “It was a business decision; we didn’t want to close it.”

Branham and Glade Park Community School Board member Karen Foster attended Tuesday’s District 51 School Board meeting to thank the district for its help starting the school and for providing guidance when school supporters quickly worked to transform the school into a charter institution in 2011, after the district decided to de-fund the school and a charter become one of few ways to save the school.

Branham said the school faced closure last June as well but the community rallied around the school and raised $18,000 in 10 days. Foster said boosters tried to save the school again this year through recruitment efforts, but it was not enough. The number of people home-schooling their children on Glade Park, or who had moved away from the area or were sending kids down to Wingate Elementary, the designated district school for students who live on Glade Park, was too much to contend with.

“(The school) was all the right things, there just was not enough attendance,” Foster told the school board. “We wanted to thank you for all of your support.” May 22 will be Glade Park’s last day of school. Community members are invited to attend an end-of-year celebration at noon that day at the school at 16250 DS Road.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, board members voted four-to-one, with board member Harry Butler dissenting, to begin discussions with another district charter school, Independence Academy, about selling four acres of district-owned land to the school so the academy could build a new facility on the land at Matchett Park in north Grand Junction.

Independence Academy has leased the former Lincoln Park Elementary building at 600 N. 14th St. for nearly five years but their lease is up in July. District 51 Executive Director of Support Services Melissa Callahan DeVita said the district is interested in using the building for other purposes but may temporarily extend the lease during the school’s relocation process.

Independence Academy Principal Damon Lockhart said Tuesday afternoon the school inquired about buying the school, but the district was not interested. Lockhart said the school has applied for a BEST grant from the state department of education in hopes of getting funding to construct a new building. Grant awards should be announced this summer, he said.


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