NewsCovering Colorado


Woodland Park School District teachers, parents protest lack of involvement in big district decisions

District leaders announced sixth-grade will be moved to elementary school next school year
Posted at 6:03 PM, Mar 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-03 20:52:10-05

WOODLAND PARK, CO— Woodland Park School District leaders and board members announced sixth grade will be moved from middle school to elementary school starting next year if the changes go through. Officials said this will create more classroom space for students in the growing school district.

About 100 teachers, students, and parents protested the board in front of Woodland Park Middle School Thursday morning.

"That's really indicative of the bigger problem, it's not what the decision is, it's that it was made without including the people who are important in the decision," said parent Erin O'Connell.

School board members told me people had plenty of opportunities to voice their concerns with a recent survey and at board meetings.

More than 300 participated in the November survey. The majority said they prefer sixth-grade stay in middle school.

The school board president told me the superintendent approved this decision.

"I don't think this is a sort of thing that should've been a surprise to anybody," said school board vice president Dave Illingworth.

One parent, Matt Gawlowski, said the school board's decisions and behaviors are driving out staff and teachers. He said it's impacting students at all levels, including his daughter in high school

"We've seen a lot of grief, teachers are reaching out to me through Facebook in distress," said Gawlowski.

Illingworth argues the opposite.

"In order to make sure our wonderful teachers are having their jobs...we have to grow," said Illingworth.

District leaders said schools are at or below half-capacity. Illingworth said he believes moving sixth graders to elementary schools will create more space.

"And improve the educational resources that we are directing to our kids, that's what our kids deserve," said Illingworth.

O'Connell said she still feels like teachers aren't being heard.

"We want them to know that we as a community are supporting them even if the board and superintendent are not," said O'Connell.


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