Oct. 10, 2023
Dear Poudre School District staff, parents/guardians, and secondary students:
In response to community feedback, we are adjusting our approach to the facility and educational program changes announced on Oct. 5. We still intend to identify changes needed to address declining birth rates and student enrollment, which equates to reduced funding for schools. At Tuesday’s PSD Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Brian Kingsley recommended that the district take an additional year to implement a number of changes for the 2025-26 school year. Our community faces a challenge that we need to address now to ensure the viability of our district in the longer term.
During this additional time, we will partner with our community to thoughtfully navigate the upcoming transitions and to make them as smoothly as possible. Our original intention was to make changes to five school communities in the 2024-25 school year, with modifications to boundaries (school attendance areas) and possible additional school consolidations taking place in the 2025-26 school year. The intent is to work toward implementing all these changes for the 2025-26 school year.
The challenge ahead
Our students have more significant needs than ever, and we are preparing to support them with fewer resources. Demographers project an enrollment decrease of about 10% in the next several years, which equates to a budget cut of roughly $40 million. With mounting facility maintenance and improvement needs nearing an estimated $1 billion and a need for new facilities to support the continuing growth in some areas of our district – such as the towns of Timnath and Wellington – a future PSD Board of Education will need to decide whether to ask voters to support a ballot measure. Inaction puts the long-term sustainability of our entire school district at risk in the future. The difficult but necessary steps we take today keep us aligned with our values of ensuring that students and their families have high-quality educational choices in PSD; growing the programs that are in high demand; and continuing to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and community assets like our facilities.
Read on to learn more about the decision-making process and next steps.
How and why did PSD make this decision?
We heard from many of you, leading up to and at the Oct. 10 PSD Board of Education meeting. Common threads emerged, as students, staff, parents/guardians, and alumni shared their reactions and emotions – all of which are understandable and all of which are human. Taking to heart what those in our communities had to say, we want to listen and engage with members of our community on additional suggestions and possible solutions to deal with this complex challenge.
As with any complex problem, there are competing factors and interests. Our intent is to keep students at the focus of our work and seek win-win solutions – not those where some feel like they have lost for others to win. The changes we make for the greater good of PSD will benefit generations of students to come and, therefore, our entire community.
Next steps: What to expect moving forward
As part of our commitment to deeper community engagement, the district will form a steering committee consisting of students, staff and family representatives. More information about how to become a part of this committee and its role will be shared in the next couple of weeks. The committee will convene listening sessions across the entire district to gather feedback.
- These listening sessions will replace those that had been scheduled for this week and next week (Polaris, Blevins, Olander, Centennial and PCA).
- The listening sessions that will be scheduled over the next several months will be open to all members of the PSD community.
- More information will be shared in email and on the PSD website as soon as sessions are scheduled.
Proposed program placement changes
- Bringing together Centennial High School and Poudre Community Academy. The two schools become one in the building that currently houses Polaris Expeditionary Learning School, at 1905 Orchard Place in Fort Collins and have a shared commitment to alternative education.
- Expanding Polaris Expeditionary Learning School at Olander Elementary School and Blevins Middle School. Neither will be a school-within-a-school model; students on both campuses become part of the Expeditionary Learning model.
- Upgrading and expanding programs that support students with disabilities. Community Connections and Cooper Home programs shift from current locations and into the building that currently houses Centennial High School, 330 E. Laurel St. in Fort Collins. PSD is also looking at moving other Transition Pathways programs, including Project Search, SWAP, and CAMPUS.
Attendance area modifications
- To ensure we are offering high-quality and comprehensive programming to all students and to address long-term declines in enrollment, PSD will likely modify school attendance areas no earlier than the 2025-26 school year.
- PSD will consider adjustments to attendance areas, including the potential consolidation of schools.
In PSD, we exist for our students. We believe in the transformative power of public education to positively impact students’ lives and prepare them to be successful in a changing world. One of the things that our students learn is how to solve real-world problems and adjust as things evolve. We are practicing what we teach and working with our community to address the very real challenges that are affecting our larger community today and for years to come. Navigating change isn’t easy, but we do so better when we do it together.
Understanding that any change can prompt a range and depth of emotion, we are committed to being transparent and communicative throughout the process. Thank you for your continued partnership.
Superintendent Brian Kingsley and the PSD Leadership Team