Castle Rock, CO

DougCo super talks next steps to right size schools

Suzie Glassman
DougCo Superintendent Erin KanePhoto byDougCo Schools YouTube

By Suzie Glassman/NewsBreak Denver

(Castle Rock, CO) DougCo schools superintendent Erin Kane discussed plans to address growth and decline in the state’s third largest district in her “Super’s Vision” sent to district families.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is get ahead of the district’s challenges with areas of growth and decline and look at making a proactive three to five-year plan so that our staff and families know what to expect.”

“As we look at paring schools, we’re also looking at opening new elementary schools. We want staff to hear us say, even if we reduce the number of schools, we’re promising that there is a job for everyone because of the other areas where we are growing,” said Kane.

Kane said it’s essential to her that they engage district staff and the community as they begin this process.

“Our first step is going to be to get out into our community and talk about this challenge we’re facing. We will have engagement opportunities in the next year,” she said.

Sitting across from Assistant Superintendent Danny Winsor, Executive Director of Schools in West Highlands Ranch, Ian Wells, and Executive Director of Schools in East Highlands Ranch, Kane asked each about their particular challenges.

Windsor said the north planning area has a “polarity of extremes” between growing and declining enrollment. The challenge is understanding how to provide excellent programming while retaining quality teachers and staff.

The Highlands Ranch community, with 36,000 homes and 18 elementary schools, is at the greatest risk for potential school closures. Other areas with exploding growth, like Sterling Ranch, The Canyons, and RidgeGate East, have none.

Gutierrez explained that larger schools could provide more programming and support resources because they benefit from economies of scale. Smaller schools may struggle to retain teachers, especially for specials like art, P.E., and music, because they aren’t needed full-time.

“We have to make tough choices when we get a little bit smaller. I think it’s really important to do what we can to best support our students and staff,” said Gutierrez.

Wells said that he and his team has had conversations with school principals and with school advisory councils. “How do you function with a half-time specials teacher? That’s not great programming for everyone involved,” he said.

The hope is that with community support, DougCo can avoid some of the challenges that neighboring districts are facing with upset parents and teachers.

Comments / 1

Published by

I'm a reporter covering the Douglas County School District in Colorado.

Denver, CO

More from Suzie Glassman

Comments / 0