Superintendents, parents, and a mayor will be among the people considering Adams 14 reorganization

Students walk through the hall at Adams City High School between classes Monday, Feb. 4, 2019.
The state had given Adams 14 a deadline of Nov. 16 to convene the first meeting of the reorganization committee.

The committee tasked with helping transform Adams 14 into a better functioning school district will convene next week.

Adams 14 and three neighboring school districts each have appointed a mix of elected officials, district staff, and parents to the reorganization committee that the state ordered Adams 14 to form. 

The committee will hold its initial meeting virtually at 3 p.m. Tuesday. The district will provide a link for the public on Monday. 

Adams 14 has received names of all the appointed members from the neighboring districts, but Mapleton’s appointees are still tentative, pending approval by the district’s accountability committee and the school board.

The State Board of Education in May ordered Adams 14 to reorganize itself after years of low ratings and some of the lowest test scores in the state. The state had previously put the district on different improvement plans. But after the district’s superintendent stopped implementing the state order by kicking out a management company, the State Board turned to a reorganization order. 

State law requires the State Board to intervene after a district has had low ratings for five years in a row, but gives the state limited options for what it can order a district to do to improve. 

Adams 14 is the first district the state ordered to reorganize, and the district is challenging the order in court. A district judge dismissed the case, but the district filed an appeal that is pending. 

In the meantime, Adams 14 leaders said at a board meeting this week that they plan to follow the law in going forward with the reorganization committee. 

“We are really going to work diligently in this legal battle to make sure our district stays intact,” Adams 14 board member Maria Zubia said. “Yes, this is something we have to do. It is ridiculous to be spending so much time and effort and actually money, but we have to abide by it.”

The process for the reorganization committee will take time. The committee will have to consider the boundaries of all districts, among other factors, and come up with a plan that could be to change boundaries, dissolve Adams 14, or keep everything the same. If the plan involves changing boundaries, then it also has to include information about facilities, school board representation, and how affected districts would share properties and cash assets. 

Once the committee drafts a plan, it must hold community meetings to share the proposal and gather feedback. The committee then is supposed to take that feedback into account to finalize the plan for state approval. The final organizational plan must be approved by the state education commissioner and the reorganization committee within 120 days of the last public hearing.

After the commissioner approves the plan it will go to voters in all the affected districts — who will have the final say over the plan. 

The state did not set a timeline for producing a reorganization plan. State law sets the timeline for some of the process, but doesn’t set a limit on how long the reorganization committee may meet before coming up with a draft.

The leaders of the neighboring school districts who are participating in the committee have expressed support for Adams 14 and opposition to its dissolution, making it unlikely the district will be dissolved.

Mapleton’s district accountability committee will vote Monday night to appoint a parent, and the school board will meet Tuesday evening to vote on the other appointments. 

Updated: This story has been updated to reflect a change in a member representing Mapleton Public Schools.

Yesenia Robles is a reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado covering K-12 school districts and multilingual education. Contact Yesenia at yrobles@chalkbeat.org.

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