Scenic may be safe if boundaries change

Scenic Elementary will remain open next school year if District 51 School Board members adopt a proposed resolution that would save the school at the board’s next meeting March 27.

At a meeting Thursday night, board members discussed possible boundary changes that would attempt to alleviate overcrowding at Shelledy and Rim Rock Elementary schools by shifting some students on the west end of the Rim Rock boundary to Shelledy and busing Shelledy students in south Fruita to either Loma Elementary or Broadway Elementary.

If the estimated 150 south Fruita students went to Broadway, it would fill the now half-empty school and prevent the district from closing Scenic Elementary and sending most Scenic students to Broadway to fill those now-empty slots. If the south Fruita students went to Loma instead, the option to close Scenic would remain a possibility.

Board members Jeff Leany, Greg Mikolai and Ann Tisue said they would prefer to send the Shelledy students to Broadway rather than Loma to leave options open if the Fruita schools become crowded again. Board member Leslie Kiesler said the district thought it would solve overcrowding issues in Fruita after opening Rim Rock in 2006, but that school and Shelledy are over-capacity less than six years later. Building another elementary school in a few years in the Fruita area would likely cost $14 million, Superintendent Steve Schultz said.

“I don’t see the benefit in spending that money down the road,” Leany said, adding he sees a benefit in keeping Scenic open because of its students’ high test scores.

Mikolai asked district staff to prepare a resolution that would move the south Fruita students to Broadway and some Rim Rock students to Shelledy. He cautioned that does not mean the resolution is a sure thing. The results of a quarterly state revenue report looming March 19 may change board members’ minds. District leaders project the board will have to cut $5.1 million to $8.1 million from the district’s 2012-13 general fund because of state revenue reductions, declining enrollment and legislated increases in retirement benefit allocations. The board so far has made no decisions on where to make up for that expected shortfall.

“If we don’t make the nasty, ugly decision of consolidation, we will have to make nasty, ugly decisions elsewhere,” Mikolai said.


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