A Denver Post Your Hub story from last week by Joey Kirchmer chronicles some growing pains in Brighton School District:
Brighton High School and Prairie View High School are at or over capacity this school year, which has forced administrators to turn to outdoor modular classrooms, roaming teachers and possibly start looking at a split-schedule system.
Around Colorado, you hear a lot of talk about the fast-growing Douglas County School District, which jumped from 38,000 students in 2001-02 to 63,000 students in 2011-12. However, Dougco’s 66 percent growth rate is absolutely dwarfed by Brighton’s 138 percent increase over the most recently measured decade. In 2001-02, Brighton’s student population was almost exactly the same as its neighbor Adams 14, just under 6,600. Last year Brighton topped 15,600 in enrollment, more than twice the size of Adams 14.
So no doubt the pressures of school capacity are being felt at the secondary level. Since Kirchmer’s article notes that district voters do not have a history of supporting tax and debt proposals, and that the district isn’t planning to ask until at least 2014, maybe it’s time to consider some alternative solutions to handle the growing pressure.
Ideas proposed a few years ago for Denver’s growing Stapleton neighborhood by my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow would be a great place to start. Combined uses of digital and traditional classroom instruction through a blended learning model could help accommodate more students without spending money on new construction. (Or maybe that new construction could incorporate innovative space for a blended learning academy.)
Just thinking outside the box. The brick-and-mortar box, that is!