June Creek Elementary School could close due to shrinking enrollment
June Creek students could be sent to Avon, Edwards elementary schools
Eagle County Schools has proposed closing June Creek Elementary and sending students to Avon and Edwards elementary schools.
More than 170 parents and staffers joined a 90-minute virtual meeting Wednesday to ask why them and why their school.
Fewer students, less money
Since 2013, the school district has seen a 30% drop in elementary school student enrollment in the eastern half of Eagle County. The district is also looking at a projected 10% cut in state funding which could mean that an upper valley elementary school would close. The current proposal is to close June Creek.
Certified teachers will keep some sort of job. It’s not as certain for the rest of the staff.
“Students and families feel confused and disenfranchised. It seems too sudden and too fast,” said Kelli Ludwig, a fifth-grade teacher at the school. “We’ve made this community our home. We’ve made this school our home.”
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The proposal calls for June Creek Elementary School to be closed and converted to an early childhood education center. Students would attend classes at either Edwards Elementary School or Avon Elementary School.
Tobin Stone said the school district has enough money in reserve to subsidize the school and asked why the district is closing it.
The June Creek building is the most cost-effective to convert to an early childhood facility, the school district said.
The plan calls for one elementary school in each upper valley community: Vail, EagleVail, Avon and Edwards.
June Creek Elementary School opened in 2009, one of the bond projects Eagle County voters approved in 2006. Enrollment was 285 for the 2010-11 school year and peaked at 322 in 2012-13. June Creek’s enrollment is projected to be 178 for the upcoming school year.
Those projections were made prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school district said.
June Creek is not unique in declining numbers. Enrollment has dropped at all five upper valley elementary schools — Red Sandstone Elementary School in Vail, Homestake Peak School in EagleVail, Avon Elementary School in Avon, Edwards Elementary School in Edwards and June Creek Elementary School in Edwards.
That downward trend is projected to continue, according to school district data from two private-sector demographers that specialize in school enrollment projections.
Karen Kolibaba, the president of the Eagle County Education Association, which is the local union for teachers, is no fan of this plan.
“Eagle County educators are shocked and saddened by the district’s abrupt proposal to close June Creek Elementary School with its students and families already coping as best they can with the coronavirus outbreak and the loss of in-person learning at the school,” Kolibaba said in a statement. “The timing of a permanent school closure couldn’t be worse and we would ask the board to delay rushing our community into such an upsetting situation considering all we have been through.”