Jefferson County Public Schools and the City of Westminster are evaluating how to repurpose three schools in the city, and the public is invited to submit their recommendations.
Lisa Relou, Chief of Strategy and Communications, presented the plan to Westminster City Council at their March 20 study session meeting.
The three schools in question are Sheridan Green Elementary, Witt STEM Elementary and Doral Academy, an arts-focused charter school on the site of the old Zerger Elementary. Those schools will close at the end of the current school year.
Jeffco Public Schools voted to close 16 schools in November of 2022 due to too many seats for too few students. The decision for which schools to close was also based in part due to proximity to other schools.
Relou explained that the board will engage with the community and will hold two community meetings to gain input on what residents would like to see at those locations.
For Zerger, a community meeting will take place in March or April, and another in June. The other schools don’t have scheduled meetings yet.
City Councilor Bruce Baker asked if the schools could be turned into charter schools, and asked if Jeffco Public Schools has done outreach to charter schools in order to do so.
“The reason we had to close schools is because we have too many seats, we had seats for 96,000 students and we serve 68,000. Our objective is not to create more seats for students because it exacerbates our problem of small schools. Adding another school to the district is not a priority,” Relou said.
She said the district is probably not done closing schools, either.
City Councilor Sarah Nurmela, pointing to the rising age of residents, suggested senior housing or a senior care facility could be proactive about the lack of housing for them.
For Sheridan Green, Mayor Nancy McNally had a host of suggestions from residents who live near the school. One came from a resident who would like to see one side of the tennis courts fixed, and the other turned into a pickleball court.
“We heard suggestions about that before the closings ever happened,” McNally said.
Other suggestions included a library, to use the classrooms for intergenerational activities and a preschool. One resident, McNally said, would like to see $1,000 massage chairs and a hot tub placed in the building.
When it comes down to it, Economic Development Director Lindsey Kimball said zoning is the greatest control of the property, which is currently quasi-public use.