Colorado education leaders help improve struggling Colorado schools

DENVER -- The clock is ticking for five Colorado school districts who are entering their sixth year with schools that have low performance, in a state ordered series of school accountability hearings.

The program began in 2009 when 24 districts were identified.

Thursday, Julesburg and Montezuma-Cortez school leaders sat in the hot seat answering questions for state board of education members who ultimately voted on direction to the districts to help turn around the schools and district.

Ultimately, the board voted to allow Montezuma-Cortez to continue with their turn-around plan for two low performing schools.

For Julesburg, it was a mixed bag, as the board voted to move toward a partial closure of the online school. The board directed the district to shut down the 6th through 8th grade portions of the online school that now runs 6th through 12th grade students.

That could be made final at the state board's meeting in April.

These hearings though, give a first-hand look and hints as to how the hearings may go for other districts such as Aurora, Douglas County and Adams 14, among others.

Board members told Denver7 they will look at every case in a unique way.

"I think what’s important to know about this process is that we are really trying to look at the individual reasons, unique situations, and communities for why students [are] struggling and really trying to tailor this process so it has the best chance of meeting student needs going forward,” said Alyssa Pearson, associate commissioner of accountability, performance and support for the state department of education.

The board could take more drastic action as soon as next month.

“Options include district reorganization, school closure, charter of a school, management partnership, or innovation partnership,” said Pearson. “All of the school districts and schools are unique and have different reasons why they are struggling with student performance; [we need to] really understand what those unique needs are and what is the right way forward or each of those communities to help improve student performance.”

The hearings are scheduled to run through the middle of May.

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