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From my inbox...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 Leave a Comment

From Mike Johnston, Stapleton resident running for Colorado Senate, about the school overcrowding situation. I put some key things in bold for those short on attention spans. If you're interested in the school problem, put this date on your calendar: November 4th, at 6:30 pm at Bill Roberts.

Dear Stapleton Community Members,

Over the last several months, many of you have made important contributions to the effort to solve our Stapleton school shortage. From the record number of residents who attended our August meeting at Bill Roberts, to neighbors participating in the SUN focus groups, attending Councilman Hancock’s SUN meeting or joining our series of informal conversations on people’s porches and back yards, the involvement has been tremendous. Thanks to that sustained effort we have made significant progress toward a resolution. We wanted to take this opportunity to update you on recent developments and outline the next steps toward our resolution. Through our collective work over the last few months all parties now agree that a third school is absolutely necessary for any long term solution. We have also agreed that our first priority must be to solidify a plan for a long term solution, and at the same time address short term needs. The residents have shown tremendous flexibility and willingness to sacrifice on short term problem solving once we are all assured that a long term solution is within reach.

Now that all parties have agreed that a third school is a necessity, the lingering problem is finding the money to pay for the construction of that school. All parties are confident that, with all of our help in supporting Stapleton business, the TIF revenue stream will eventually generate the dollars to payback the construction of this third school similar to how it is currently paying back the Westerly Creek/Odyssey construction costs. Nonetheless this still leaves us with the problem of how to find dollars right away to pay for the construction of a school we need now. We were excited that DPS was the first party to offer to bring dollars to the table to finance the front end construction of the school under two conditions: 1) that they would be repaid these funds through TIF revenues and 2) that they would be a part of a 3-part solution with Forest City directly contributing and the Stapleton project reallocating existing dollars from other projects.

You may have seen press releases last week about a Forest City proposal to reallocate nearly 5 million dollars from a project for the Westerly Creek Park that is temporarily on hold. Technically these dollars would be a reallocation from the Stapleton Project approved through DURA and the City of Denver. This contribution, coupled with DPS’s willingness to contribute to the solution, gets us roughly 2/3 of the way towards our desired goal but we still need Forest City to make a contribution to fill the remaining funding gap for the project. This encouraging step does move us closer to getting a final funding resolution in place, and we have meetings set over the next several weeks to put all these stakeholders into one room and try to iron out a solution.

Now on to our next steps: at our meeting in August, David Suppes, the COO of DPS, agreed to a follow up meeting in mid October to propose solutions to the community. Now that we are getting so close to a solution we would like to propose two intermediate steps before this meeting. We propose along with representatives from SUN and the CEC to attend the DPS board meeting on October 15th to present our proposed solutions for a new school. Similar to the outstanding community presentations we had at the last SUN meeting, this would be our chance for the board to hear exactly what the problem is and what we believe the characteristics of a successful solution would look like. Through a series of very productive meetings over the last month, the strong feelings of the Stapleton community have become clear: we want a solution that ensures public schools that are high quality, neighborhood based and diverse. We heard many residents in multiple settings reiterate the fact that they want to make sure that Stapleton schools remain diverse and open to children from the surrounding community, consistent with the long standing Stapleton vision articulated in the Green Book. We also heard that Stapleton families don’t want to see their children disbursed or reassigned to multiple schools across the district. We have listened to your feedback and are excited to move forward with these goals at the center of the project.

By presenting our feedback to the DPS school board on October 15th, the board and DPS could then prepare to announce final proposals to the community on the Stapleton schools situation at their board meeting on November 2nd. We propose then hosting our large community meeting on November 4th here in Stapleton, which will allow residents to hear about the progress, ask questions and discuss next steps. In addition to allowing us to formally engage the DPS board in preparing solutions, this added time also allows us to work closely with all the parties involved to work to secure commitments for a final solution on financing that could be announced at the November meeting. The meeting will be held on November 4th, at 6:30 pm at Bill Roberts.

The last several months have been an incredible testimony to the fabric of this community: people have come together in rich dialogue about what values they want their community to stand for and they have been quick to volunteer their own time, energy and passion to make that vision a reality. Out of this crisis has come the opportunity to deepen the strong Stapleton community that has already taken root, and to broaden our commitment to make Stapleton a strong and supportive neighbor to the larger Denver community. Like many strong families, it is inspiring to see that we are at our best when times are toughest.


Councilman Michael B. Hancock
Senator Mike Johnston
SUN education committee
Stapleton CEC Steering Committee