This week’s YourHub section of the Denver Post included the first in a Q&A series related to the Orchard Station Ballot Issue. The first question posed, “If approved, what impact do you anticipate the Orchard Station Subarea Plan will have on school enrollment in Greenwood Village?“.
It is stunning that Cherry Creek School District submitted the same response as it did in the January 2017 Greenwood Village Newsletter. Somehow CCSD reached the conclusion that the average annual impact of 1,200+ Orchard Station residences will ONLY produce 25 students. This conclusion makes no sense.
Using the national standards that CCSD provides in both articles, Orchard Station is projected to generate 300 students, or 12-times more than the District estimates.
In response to GV publishing these inaccurate projections and circulating them widely throughout Greenwood Village, I sent a letter to City Manager Jim Sanderson. I also copied the Mayor, City Council, Planning & Zoning, the CCSD Superintendent, the Board of Education and the District’s Director of Communications. In the three months since I submitted the letter, nobody has ever taken issue with the methodology or conclusions I reached.
Further, the District inaccurately states that it can “easily accommodate” the Orchard Station students and “it could take many years or even decades for those schools to reach capacity”. Considering that many schools on the west side of the District already have one or more mobile classrooms (trailers), these statements are hard to believe.
In addition to materially underestimating the Orchard Station impact, CCSD’s analysis fails to include other planned or approved developments or any organic growth.
The Orchard Station and Marvella developments alone could produce over 150 ADDITIONAL STUDENTS at Greenwood Elementary. Hundreds more could flow into the middle schools and Cherry Creek High School from these and other new developments. When I spoke to staff at Greenwood Elementary in January, I was advised that the school is at capacity with only 1 or 2 possible spots available in 1st and 2nd grade.
Dr. Judith Hilton, a former high school and middle school principal in the Cherry Creek School District, wrote an excellent response to the YourHub Q&A question. In her response, she emphasizes the negative impact of overcrowding and the limited options the District has for dealing with this problem – mobile classrooms, adjusting school boundaries or implementing a year-round calendar. By law CCSD must accommodate all students who live in its boundaries, so the District must find room for these students even if the solutions are far from ideal.
This week, five city council members and six P&Z commissioners started circulating a letter in support of the Orchard Station Subarea. They quote CCSD’s inaccurate conclusion that Orchard Station will only produce 25 students per year.
However, the Greenwood Village City Council clearly understands the educational risk that high-density and multi-family development poses. Currently, GV is involved in a dispute with the City of Aurora trying to prevent the construction of 1,200 housing units at Dayton Station. This is completely contradictory to their position on Orchard Station.
Here is a quote from the August 31, 2016 City Council minutes (Mayor Pro Tem and City Councilmember T.J. Gordon is a strong supporter of the Orchard Station Subarea):
“Mayor Pro Tem Gordon explained that after learning of a developer’s interest in constructing 1,200 multi-family dwelling units in Greenwood Village’s jurisdiction, an executive session was held on June 6, 2016 to receive legal advice regarding the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) from 2001 which gave the City of Aurora zoning authority over that Greenwood Village property north of I-225. The impacts from the proposed development were discussed, in particular, the already overcrowded Belleview Elementary School was identified.”
If Mr. Gordon and other councilmembers are already aware of the detrimental impact that high-density residential has had on Belleview Elementary and are actively trying to prevent the construction of another 1,200 residential units at Dayton Station – why are they ignoring the exact same risks at Orchard Station?
For those willing to study the data and do the math, the risks of the Orchard Station Subarea are crystal clear. VOTE NO on June 6.
Click here for my letter to GV and CCSD, which includes calculations on the school impact of Orchard Station and other new developments.
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