The Littleton Public Schools Board of Education recently charged the Long-Range Planning Committee to review current elementary school boundaries east of Broadway and consider possible options to alleviate overcrowding at Dr. Justina Ford Elementary School. For the most up-to-date information regarding this work and how to provide feedback, please visit the Long-Range Planning Committee's website.
The LPS Long-Range Planning Committee has been meeting since the fall of 2018 to study school boundaries in an effort to:
At its regularly scheduled meeting on August 27, 2020, the LPS Board of Education approved changes to the district’s attendance boundaries after revisiting parent survey results they received in June for middle and high schools and receiving new parent survey results for elementary schools.
The Board approved the Rosewood option for elementary schools, the Spruce option for middle schools, and the Fir option for high schools.
The process to update the boundaries was a long one, necessitated by passage of the bond. Updating boundaries addresses the growing transportation challenges resulting from increased traffic, provides boundaries for the new elementary school to be built for the Ames neighborhood, provides boundaries for the new elementary school to be built for the combined Highland and Franklin neighborhood, and better balances enrollment between Newton and Powell middle schools.
The Long-Range Planning Committee devoted many hours to studying, discussing, and changing existing boundaries and seeking feedback from the community through open houses, online surveys, letters, emails, and phone calls. The Committee presented findings to the Board of Education on several occasions, taking direction from the Board on gathering further information or feedback and updating maps to provide new options.
“I want to thank the Long-Range Planning Committee again for moving this discussion to the point where the Board only had surgical-type changes. The Board gave the Committee an impossible charge of balancing enrollment while reducing transportation. The Committee got it right, and their process worked exactly the way it was supposed to,” said LPS Board of Education President Jack Reutzel.
Board members noted the likelihood that LPS will need to develop a plan to consider consolidating and/or closing other elementary schools in the next few years in response to the community’s changing neighborhoods. The Board also noted that boundaries could very well change again. “It’s important to know that this is the first step, not the step. We must be responsive to our changing neighborhoods and aging community. Thanks to everyone who participated in the surveys and gave us feedback.”
“We will be looking at several puzzle pieces over the next few years, and open enrollment is always a wildcard,” said LPS Superintendent Brian Ewert. “This is step one.”
New boundaries will take effect in the fall of 2021 for the 2021–2022 school year.
Littleton Public Schools’ current school boundaries have evolved over the decades. Sometimes boundary changes needed to be made to accommodate growth. Most recently, boundary changes needed to be made in 2008 to accommodate the closures of Whitman and Ames elementary schools; students in those attendance boundaries needed to be transported to other elementary schools where there was space. These solutions resulted in students from some neighborhoods being bused long distances to their new schools, sometimes past several other elementary schools on the way.
Since 2008, worsening local traffic, especially across major north/south roads such as Santa Fe, Broadway, University and Colorado Blvd, has created very long bus rides for some students. For example, three years ago, the average speed of LPS buses running routes was 25 miles per hour. Today, the average speed is 15 miles per hour.
Thanks to our community’s passage of a $298 million bond in 2018, a new elementary school will open on the Ames campus in the fall of 2021, and a new elementary for the Highland and Franklin communities will open on the Franklin campus in the fall of 2022. Both new schools need attendance boundaries. Creating boundaries for these new schools provides LPS an opportunity to examine and update all of its boundaries in a more logical way that will reduce transportation distances and time on the bus while seeking balance in school sizes.
Since the fall of 2018, the LPS Long-Range Planning Committee has had 16, two-hour meetings to discuss boundaries. Committee members considered 16 different elementary school boundary scenarios, six different middle school boundary scenarios and four different high school boundary scenarios.
As part of this process, the Committee:
Feedback was gathered, new scenarios developed
The Committee asked for community feedback on the first round of boundary scenarios. Four stakeholder meetings were scheduled in January, 2020 and February, 2020 (one was cancelled due to a winter storm), where attendees learned about each scenario, asked questions of Committee members, gave feedback and took an exit survey.
Presentations were made to and feedback was gathered from district-level committees.
Based on feedback received, the Committee developed six new boundary scenarios (two at each level). The Committee presented the new scenarios to the Board of Education during an online workshop May 7, 2020.
Parents were invited to participate in a survey from May 22, 2020 through June 5, 2020. Out of 15,737 invited to participate, 1,575 responses were received. These survey results were presented to the Board of Education during its regularly scheduled meeting June 11, 2020.
The Board of Education continued its conversation about boundary study options during its June 25, 2020 Board of Education meeting.
Based on feedback received from parents and based on the Board's conversations, three new elementary boundary options were developed. Parents can provide feedback to the new elementary boundary options through a survey in August 2020.