More Denver schools to give preference to students from low-income families

Three affluent Denver elementary schools have joined a small pilot program that gives preference to students from low-income families who don’t live within the schools’ boundaries but want to attend.

Bromwell Elementary in central-east Denver, Lincoln Elementary in southeast Denver, and Park Hill Elementary in northeast Denver are the latest schools to opt into the pilot. Fewer than 20 percent of students at each of the three schools qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, a proxy for poverty. Districtwide, about 67 percent of students qualify.

The pilot program is an effort to better integrate the city’s schools at a time when gentrification is deepening economic divides between neighborhoods – and neighborhood schools.

Under the pilot, students who live within the Bromwell, Lincoln, and Park Hill boundaries will be enrolled first whether they qualify for subsidized lunches or not. Non-boundary students from low-income families will get priority for any remaining open seats.

This year, Bromwell accepted 24 kindergarteners who “choiced in,” Lincoln accepted 23 choice kindergarteners, and Park Hill accepted 11 choice kindergarteners.

McAuliffe International School is also participating in the pilot for the first time. The high-performing middle school in northeast Denver, where 18 percent of students qualify for subsidized lunches, accepted 59 sixth-graders who choiced in this year.

Seven other affluent schools were invited by Denver Public Schools to join the pilot and asked to make a decision by Feb. 1, which is when families and students began choosing schools for next year. As of Tuesday, those schools had not joined, district officials said.

The pilot program began two years ago. Six elementary schools and one high school participated last year. The impact on student diversity was modest at the elementary schools, most of which had few open seats available for students to choice in.

Despite that limitation, a committee of community leaders recently recommended expanding it as part of the district’s response to the segregating effects of gentrification.

Other Denver schools also give enrollment priority to students from low-income families. They include charter schools that have long prized integration, and schools within some district enrollment zones, which are enlarged boundaries with several schools in them.

Which Denver schools give priority to students from low-income families?

These more affluent district-run schools opted into the pilot program:
Asbury Elementary School
Edison Elementary School
Steele Elementary School
Academia Ana Marie Sandoval Elementary School
Creativity Challenge Community Elementary School
Slavens K-8 School
East High School
Bromwell Elementary School
Lincoln Elementary School
Park Hill Elementary School
McAuliffe International Middle School

These charter schools also give priority:
DSST: Stapleton Middle School
DSST: Stapleton High School
DSST: Byers Middle School
DSST: Byers High School
DSST: Conservatory Green Middle School
DSST: Conservatory Green High School
Odyssey School of Denver K-8
Highline Academy Southeast K-8
Downtown Denver Expeditionary Elementary School

These district-run schools give priority as part of an enrollment zone:
Joe Shoemaker Elementary School
Holm Elementary School
Samuels Elementary School
Swigert International Elementary School
Westerly Creek Elementary School
William (Bill) Roberts K-8 School
Isabella Bird Community Elementary School
High Tech Elementary School
Inspire Elementary School

McAuliffe Manual Middle School, which opened last year, also gives priority.