The embattled Adams County 14 School District now has a secure future, following the recommendation by a committee made up of neighboring school districts' leaders that dissolution was not the best path forward -- a recommendation the state education commissioner accepted Thursday.
CBS News Colorado has reported extensively over the years about how Adams 14 landed in hot water with the state board of education due to consistently poor student performance.
In 2018, the state required Adams 14 to work with a, but in 2021, the district fired the company, . That decision resulted in serious consequences for Adams 14, when the state school board voted in 2022 to explore options of reorganizing or dissolving the school district.
A local committee was formed to conduct that exploration. The committee was made up of representatives from nearby school districts and chaired by the Adams 14 school board president, Renee Lovato.
The district operates eight elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools, so neighboring districts would've had to take in those students.
According to a letter from Colorado Commissioner of Education Susana Cordova, the committee said the redrawing of district boundaries was "not feasible," and that state law says, "there can be no reorganization when the surrounding districts are unwilling to redraw their boundaries," so she chose to allow Adams 14 to continue operations.
In the letter, Cordova wrote, "we find ourselves in a unique situation."
Read the full letter at the bottom of this article.
While the decision was a sigh of relief for Adams 14 leaders, it didn't come as a surprise. As CBS News Colorado reported last year, neighboring.
"This is going to mean so much to our community, to our students, to our staff, our teachers," said Adams 14 School Board President Renee Lovato. "I'm overwhelmed by the support."
The decision is not only a win for Adams 14 but also a demonstration for school districts across Colorado about the power of local control -- something that has governed school politics in the Centennial State for decades.
"I can't say enough about local control. That's been our thread that we've been hanging on to, what seems like a thread, just because we are elected officials for each of our individual communities, we are in the communities everyday, we live here, we grocery shop here, we have conversations all the time," Lovato said.
Last year, the district contracted a new private firm to help the district get student performance back on track. In her letter to Adams 14, Cordova said the state is currently providing $850,000 to support that contract.
However, Cordova indicated in her letter to the district that Adams 14 may not be renewing that company's contract.
Lovato says it's about finances.
"Our board is kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place," Lovato said. "We are currently in contract negotiations, and we as a board have set up a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss this. I think a lot of what I would love the public to understand is the money involved in this, we're we're talking millions upon millions... We had quite a budget fiasco happening, so we had to take a look at that and also balance meeting the State Board's orders. So I think we're we're very much in the preliminary discussions of this, and I'm just very thankful that the Commissioner, and the state board, and CDE (the Colorado Department of Education) have taken the time to ask questions, instead of just assuming and penalizing us right away, because there are many facets to this discussion."
Lovato says theand student success is its main focus moving forward.
In an email to CBS News Colorado providing comment for this story, CDE wrote: "We respect the community's decision to not reorganize the district and to continue to serve the students of the community. We are fully committed to continuing our support for the district."
CDE also tells CBS News Colorado it plans to continue to provide support to Adams 14 to help students get back on track.
"The state will continue its regular progress monitoring, working alongside the district as it continues to focus supporting the students and teachers of Adams 14," a spokesperson for the district said. "Additionally, CDE is offering $350,000 to increase school improvement funding."
See Cordova's full letter below:
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