GT Faces Funding Problem


GT students work on computers by Lendsy Barriga

Lendsy Barriga, Rookie Reporter

By Lendsy Barriga

After 10 years in Wheat Ridge High School, the Gifted and Talented program (GT
program) might possibly be cut by Jeffco at the end of the 2017-18 school year.

This program was initiated to challenge motivated learners and accommodate their needs.
During the 2007-2008 school year, planning began at Wheat Ridge High School, the district’s first
GT center. Griff Wirth, the principal of WRHS and his team were involved in all the planning and
viewing of professional development opportunities so that staff members would be aware of what
would be required of them as a GT high school center for Jeffco. This program began with 22
freshmen and has expanded, reaching 150 students. What is the GT problem that puts it on the
possible chopping block?

Lisa Lee from the GT center said, “We work for the Jeffco GT center in schools, and
students from all districts get placed in GT. We are not considered as staff members because the
program placed us here and the district also wants us here, and so basically the district told Mr.
Wirth to stop paying us when we actually get paid by the GT center.”

In other words, the district expects WRHS to pick up the GT center costs from the school
budget for the 2018-19 school year. This is an impossibility as it would make the school cut two
other staff members to cover just the cost of the teachers.

Many students have been asking themselves if they’ll still have advanced classes or the
same routine next year if the program is cut. Lee added “GT kids mostly have anxiety,
depression, or suicidal thoughts, and we help them with their feelings and emotions for them to go
through their advanced classes because they can’t be in all advanced classes.”

This program has grown and has challenged many students from all districts to push
themselves and try their hardest in classes, helping them with their homework and stress in
general. This program also challenges multiple GT students in their areas of strength in addition to
their gifts and talents.

What would it look like if we didn’t have the GT program? The answer is simple. Many
students wouldn’t be able to get along with too much stress or anxiety, and they wouldn’t be
motivated in experiencing new things and being able to set their mind on something that will help
them in the future.

An enormous crowd arose on Feb. 9 as the Board of Education held a meeting
that ended up lasting seven hours. Many parents, students, and staff were present during the
meeting and each wore T-shirts to symbolize their school. Multiple people who attended from
Wheat Ridge High School wore “We’ve got your back” printed in yellow on the back of a black
T-shirt. The board finally decided not to close down four of the five schools and continue to sustain
the GT center with district dollars for the next school year. The board then affirmed that they would
quit maintaining the gifted and talented center with district dollars on January.