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Jeffco’s Enrollment Rate Going Downhill

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By: Lily Fraser

By: Lily Fraser

By: Lily Fraser

Lily Fraser, Staff Writer

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By: Lily Fraser

Many high schools have dropouts, bad test scores, and ever shrinking class sizes after the previous graduating one.

Here at Wheat Ridge High School, during the year of 2015, we had around 1,294 individuals that attended classes during the day. However, this year of 2016, Wheat Ridge has dropped down to around 1,200 students who currently attend. Griff Wirth, the head principal of Wheat Ridge, had stated that the school had dropped immensely within the last year and knew that it would.

Throughout the school, from special education to the AP classes, there are up to 61 teachers that instruct the students what they need to know before getting shipped off to college for four or more years. But, due to this huge decline in enrollment, they may need to start cutting teachers off, meaning some of the newer teachers will have to be laid off from Wheat Ridge High School.

Because of the cuts to teachers, the principals and staff of the school will have to have a meeting about unfortunately letting teachers go. It’s extremely scary thinking about losing, possibly, some of the most intelligent and favorited teachers around school. Wirth had mentioned that the biggest impact from losing certain teachers to the students is the emotional loss that comes with it, and connecting with those teachers has helped the students get through a rough day in class with having a small chat with them at the end of the day.

“Because of the low enrollment rate starting to incline, we may have to start cutting certain programs,” said Wirth. “It could be newspaper, art, music, and maybe others. But, we are keeping it in consideration.”

Downsizing occurs throughout the country, at every possible educational building that offers free knowledge to their students. Recently, concurrently with the election of the new president Donald J. Trump, the initiative of 3A and 3B has been voted down.

3A is described as a mill levy for teacher compensation and retention that will annually recruit and keep our teachers highly qualified, maintain our average classroom sizes, restore two days to the school that were cut when teacher pay was cut during the recession, and insure that the students have access to instrumental music, teacher librarians, electives and Outdoor Lab.

3B is a mill bond that would have provided the needed funds for aging schools and repairs that are critical for the students’ warmth, dryness, safety (such as locks on doors), heating throughout the school, lighting, new desks, gym equipment, and computers. Certain students also say the food needs some improvement from the Blackjack Pizza everyday.

Wirth has said that it’s blatantly obvious that the 3B bond would have drastically affected Wheat Ridge, due to the fact that this will provide improvement to our school.

Arik Heim, a social studies teacher, is still emotional about the issue of  3A and 3B. When asked about how it will affect him as a teacher, he just stated in a thoughtful and monotoned voice that ,“The size of classes may make it slightly harder to teach since there will be so many students squeezed into one classroom.” The loss of colleagues will emotionally impact him because he may be losing some of his best friends at work, and that Wheat Ridge is sadly going to cut four to five teachers due to the funding. It’ll be an emotional journey.

“I’m angry and outraged that the district doesn’t care enough for our education,” Heim passionately stated while sitting in his classroom, filled with a handful of seniors who were applying to colleges. One can only imagine how many seniors of 2017 will be in that class.

Stephanie Rossi, another social studies teacher who has been here for quite some time along with Heim, had some very passive aggressive statements towards the down vote for 3A and 3B. Hearing the news, she was devastated, and still is after a whole week of knowing.

“It hurts,” said Rossi. “One way it affected me was quite personal. All employees will have a cut in pay, and eventually, how it was once restored, will be cut again. Teachers and employees here are willing to make sure people keep their jobs for the kids.” Teachers have sacrificed a lot to make sure that their students get the right education for college or just, in general, their adult life.

The Jeffco district has one of the lowest pay rates in the metro area of Colorado. Rossi stated that it hurts to see teachers practically standing on street corners, holding up signs just so that they keep their pay rate decent.

Teachers struggle to educate certain students everyday and one could only slightly decipher the hardships, as if it’s another language. Some of these educators may not be in the school within the next year, causing huge problems to the system. Heim and Rossi both clearly stated that students may not take advantage of their free education until they are gone, along with electives and clubs

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Jeffco’s Enrollment Rate Going Downhill