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Poudre School District abandons plans to close Colorado schools amid protests from students and parents

School district in Northern Colorado abandons plans to close schools amid protests
School district in Northern Colorado abandons plans to close schools amid protests 01:49

In an emergency meeting on Monday night, the Poudre School District board voted to abruptly abandon their plans to consolidate or close schools throughout Fort Collins. The board, which first announced the plans in 2023, made the decision after thousands of parents and students started publicly protesting in the Northern Colorado area.  


PSD announced in 2023 that their rapidly declining enrollment was causing a shortfall in funding while also leaving many classrooms empty around the district. The board announced plans to close a handful of schools but was met with student walkouts and contentious protests from the community. So, the board enlisted a team of community volunteers to research the district's best options for closures.

That team's findings were released less than two weeks ago and caused even larger backlash in the community than the initial plans.

CBS News Colorado's Dillon Thomas spoke with students and parents from several communities with schools facing closures. All said they felt the district was making a knee-jerk decision without trying to find alternative ways to adjust their budget without causing kids to have to commute to other schools.

On Monday, just hours before the board voted to ditch their closure plans for now, hundreds of students from Blevins Middle School abruptly stormed out of class to protest the school board.

"We are out here protesting because they're trying to close Blevins," said Moirah Kennedy, an eight grade students at Blevins.

Students held signs and chanted as cars passed by honking their horns in support.

"It is a neighborhood school. It may be small, but it still has a big place in other people's hearts. It's like a home to some people," said Abby Railsbick, an eighth grader.

Though many parents were outspoken on their distaste for the school district and board, some said they were especially proud to see students vocalizing their concerns.

"I was tearing up walking up, it is so good to see everyone pulling together for Blevins," said Sarah Istre, a parent.

"I'm really happy to see everybody that is excited, that this matters so much to them," said Robin Conley, a parent who will have a student at Blevins next year.

Some, like Istre, said they felt the board and district were rushing decisions and not being transparent throughout the process, a sentiment some students echoed.

"Nobody got an opinion," Kennedy said. "It is so important for kids to have their space. This is some kids home."

Some parents, prior to the board's decision to abandon closure plans, suggested the school board was traumatizing students, staff and parents without reason.

"You have put so many families through unnecessary trauma. All the teachers, everyone," Istre said.

CBS News Colorado requested an interview with the district and school board, however a spokesperson said no one would be available to comment on this story at the time of publication.

Update: The following letter was sent to parents on Monday night:

May 20, 2024
Dear PSD community:
Tonight, the PSD Board of Education voted unanimously on three decisions key to the future of long-range planning in the district:
1. The board voted to end the current long range planning process. With this vote, the work of the Facilities Planning Steering Committee has also ended and there will be no school closures or consolidations for the 2025-26 school year.
- Members of the steering committee will present a debrief and reflection on their work and the long-range planning process at the board's May 28 meeting.
- The one-hour community meetings with board members on June 4 will continue to be offered.
- With this decision, the board will not vote on scenarios at its June 11 meeting.
2. The board voted to ask staff to determine the feasibility of finding another space to house Transitions Pathways/Programs starting in 2025-26.
3. The board voted to ask staff to determine the feasibility of finding another space to house Poudre Community Academy (PCA) starting in 2025-26.
Staff charged with finding new homes for Transitions Pathways/Programs and PCA will bring recommendations as to where these programs might be housed to a Board of Education meeting this fall.
The board invited state legislators and local elected officials to join them for Monday's meeting to discuss the future of our community. We would like to thank those who were able to attend: Colorado Rep. Cathy Kipp, Colorado Rep. Andrew Boesenecker, and Larimer County Commissioners Jody Shaddock-McNally, Kristin Stephens, and John Kefalas.
Again, the Board of Education will still host its scheduled listening sessions on June 4. Additional opportunities to engage in conversation with the Board of Education will also be scheduled in the future.
The board and district leadership would again like to emphatically thank the PSD Facilities Planning Steering Committee and the Colorado State University Institute for the Built Environment for their work.
The board and district leadership would also like to thank all members of our community for your strong engagement and for sharing your voices throughout the long-range planning process. We are committed to continuing to engage deeply with the community in the future.
Poudre School District  

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