Save Our School

Eagle Pride

On October 25th Denver Public Schools announced the intention to close Whittier ECE-8, along with nine other DPS schools. This closure would completely dismantle Whittier ECE-8 as a school option, forcing students into six different enrollment zone schools.

The announcement was framed as a done deal, this is not true!

Whittier ECE8 has been recommended to be closed by DPS and dispersed into other schools in the district. Below are some reasons why we think this is a bad idea, and resources to help you get involved if you agree. Most importantly though, You Can Help By Taking Action.

Sign the Petition

TODAY

  1. Provide feedback with the district form
  2. E-mail the members of the School Board. Share why Whittier is important to you, and feel free to grab data or information from the site below.
  3. Print some flyers to get the word out! Flyer has both an English and Spanish side, meant for dual-sided printing.
  4. Sign the Petition. Show your support by signing on to our petition to keep Whittier open!

November 3

On Thursday, November 3rd at 4:30pm at 1860 Lincoln Street there will be a school board meeting about this matter followed by public comment. Your voice is important as we move through this process.

9:00 am Monday November 7th through 5:00 pm Thursday November 10th

Sign up for public comment here.

Monday November 7th

Denver School Board Vice President Auon’tai Anderson will host a community circle moderated by RTD Director Shontel Lewis, starting at 6:30 at 2836 Welton St. You can RSVP via Facebook.

November 14

Attend the public comment forum from 430pm to 730pm at 1860 Lincoln St. Free parking to the north of the building at 19th and Lincoln. This is in-person only.

November 17

Attend the Board Meeting starting at 4:30 pm on Thursday November 17 at 1860 Lincoln Street and encourage the board to vote NO!

If you would like to get involved or have ideas on how to help, pleae join our Google Group.

History of Whittier

For a full history of Whittier ECE-8 please visit Whittier ECE s History Page

The Whittier school has served as a shining light of educational and diversity values for Colorado, Denver, and the surrounding community since its founding.

  • The city’s first African-American teacher, Marie Anderson Greenwood, was hired by the Denver school system to teach first grade at Whittier Elementary School in 1938.
  • Mrs. Jessie Whaley Maxwell (1909-2002) was the first African-American Administrator in Denver Public Schools and the state of Colorado. She was named Principal of Whittier Elementary School in 1955, where she served until 1966.

District Consolidation Plan

A Declining Enrollment Advisory Committee was formed to create recommendations on how the district should address ongoing declining enrollment. The plan they recommended, that was accepted by Superintendent Alex Marrero, was to close ten schools: eight Denver elementary schools, one K-8 school, and one middle school. All 10 of the schools are district-run schools, with no charter schools included on the list or considered under the single published criteria for selecting which schools would close.

The current proposal has Whittier being dissolved into the other schools in our enrollment zone (ECE-5 and 6-8 schools shown below):

The full plan can be found here: Declining Enrollment Unification Plan

The presentation to the board about the unification plan can be found here: BoE Presentation, Criteria

It is important to note that as Whittier ECE-8 is the only ECE-8 school included in this plan, it is the only school that will NOT be combined with another one-two schools but rather the student body will be dispersed amongst six other schools. This means our students are excluded from the transition plan as outlined by the district to help alleviate the traumatic effect this plan will have on our students and the community.

Timeline

Denver Public Schools and the school board have given school communities no more than three weeks during the fall holiday season to announce, understand, “collaborate”, “engage”, and vote on the decision to close 10 district run schools, negatively impacting hundreds of families, thousands of students, and many dozens of educators/staffers.

  • On October 25th the school closure plan was announced
  • On November 1st Whittier ECE-8 held a public meeting for the school community
    • There was no school board representation at this meeting, although district representation there noted that other schools did have school board representation present at their respective meetings. This was the case even though ours is the ONLY school that will be disintegrated and dispersed to SIX DIFFERENT SCHOOLS, as opposed to being combined with another one or two schools.
  • On Thursday November 3rd the school board will hear a presentation to review this plan
  • On Thursday, November 17th the school board will vote on this plan

Data

DPS claims that declining birth rates in the district are behind their decision to close Whittier and nine other schools. However, The map shared with the BoE in June shows that Whittier is surrounded primarily by neighborhoods that have seen an increase in population under 18.

Population Change

Moreso, Whittier saw an increase in enrollment from the 2020-2021 to 2021-2022 school year. While official numbers have not yet been posted to the School Choice website for the 2022-2023 school year, some school staff are reporting a 10% increase in enrollment from the previous year.

The schools that the district proposes Whittier consolidate with have not all seen increases in enrollment:

School Type Enrollment 20-21 Enrollment 21-22 Change in Enrollment
Whittier ECE-8 Innovation 222 227 +2.3% (increase)
Wyatt Elementary Charter 183 179 -2.2% (decrease)
University Prep Charter 364 303 -16.8% (decrease
Cole Arts and Sciences Academy Innovation 281 276 -1.8% (decrease)
McAuliffe at Manual Innovation 289 260 -10.0% (decrease
DSST: Cole Charter 315 262 -16.8% (decrease)
Bruce Randolph Traditional 371 347 -6.5% (decrease)

Whittier ECE-8, as seen in the chart above, is the only school in the enrollment district with an increase in enrollment, yet DPS is suggesting it be dissolved into the other schools. Despite multiple inquiries, DPS has failed or refused to provide the precise criteria they used to come to this conclusion. Our community agrees something needs to be done about declinig enrollment in DPS and the budget shortfall that creates, but we do not believe arbitrarily picking schools to close based on unclear critieria is the way to do it!

DPS core values aren’t at the core of this decision

Core value Why closing Whittier does not align
Students First: “We place the successful education and experience of the whole student at the forefront of everything we do.” Whittier students are NOT put first in this decision. Many students will be separated from friends and siblings. In addition, they will now have to travel further in order to attend school.
Integrity: We tell the truth to ourselves and to others. We strive to keep our word. We hold each other accountable. We listen with the intent to understand. DPS claims that declining birth rates have forced the difficult decision to close schools. While this is true, the majority of neighborhoods that surround Whittier have seen a 20-100% increase in the under 18 population. While their claim about declining enrollment in DPS is true, they were not transparent about the population changes in the neighborhoods servicing Whittier, nor the criteria by which schools would be picked for closure.
Equity: We value our diversity. We understand each student has unique needs. We are intentional about identifying opportunities and providing resources to help ensure every child succeeds. As are most of the schools on the closure list, Whittier is an incredibly diverse school. 40.5% of students are Hispanic and 46.4% of students are African American (source). Whittier is also one of the few schools in DPS with a newly renovated building and air conditioning. Our students deserve a comfortable and clean space. Closing Whittier is NOT equitable.
Collaboration: We honor the skills, talents, and perspectives each person brings to the team. We work with and support each other to reach our common goals. The Whittier community was not engaged in the conversation around the school consolidation plan. As one student shared at the community meeting on November 1, “Nobody asked us if we wanted our school to be closed.” There was no collaboration in this decision.
Accountability: We take responsibility for our work and commitments. We own our successes and mistakes. We seek clarity and actively pursue continuous improvement. Whittier saw a 2.3% increase in enrollment between the 2021-2022 school year. Claiming that Whittier has declining enrollment is simply not true. DPS is not holding themselves accountable for accurate information or data-driven decision making.
Fun: We create a place where people want to work. We value our relationships and celebrate each other. We value the opportunity to do meaningful and impactful work. We work in an environment that facilitates a healthy work life balance. Our students love Whittier. Our teachers love Whittier. Our parents love Whittier. Our students and teachers will not be able to remain together under the consolidation plan. This is NOT FUN.