Mixed response on merging Bergen Meadow, Valley

School board hosts public hearing before Nov. 10 decision

Deb Hurley Brobst
dbrobst@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 10/30/22

If Bergen Meadow Elementary School is merged into its sister school Bergen Valley, then do it right, so it will accommodate students for the next 50 years. If the two schools consolidate, then solve the traffic issues on Sugarbush Drive, the only road that leads to Bergen Valley. Those were the messages from several speakers at a public hearing conducted by the Jefferson County Public Schools school board on Oct. 28 attended by about 50 parents.

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Mixed response on merging Bergen Meadow, Valley

School board hosts public hearing before Nov. 10 decision

Posted

If Bergen Meadow Elementary School is merged into its sister school Bergen Valley, then do it right, so it will accommodate students for the next 50 years.

If the two schools consolidate, then solve the traffic issues on Sugarbush Drive, the only road that leads to Bergen Valley.

Those were the messages from several speakers at a public hearing conducted by the Jefferson County Public Schools school board on Oct. 28 attended by about 50 parents. Seven spoke during the 45-minute hearing, and school board President Stephanie Schooley said as the meeting started that the board’s job was to listen and not respond to comments.

The public hearing took place ahead of the Jeffco Public Schools board’s decision on Nov. 10 on whether to close 16 schools in the district because of low enrollment. 

While two teachers at The Bergens said consolidating the schools was important for students and staff, other speakers were not so sure. One speaker said the two schools should remain separate, while another suggested that Bergen Meadow, a 52-year-old building, should be torn down and a new school built there.

The plan is for Bergen Meadow, which houses preschool through second grade, to close after the 2023-24 school year. Meanwhile, an addition would be built onto Bergen Valley, which currently has third- through fifth-graders, to accommodate preschool-fifth grade beginning in fall 2024. The district plans to create enough space for up to four classrooms at each grade level.

An opportunity

Several speakers considered the consolidation an opportunity.

“I’m broadly in support of consolidation,” said parent Nate Whitman. “I think if we really approach this together as a community, it can have incredible benefits. My main point is … we need to think big, long range and get it right. We have one opportunity to … build something parents, students, the community and stakeholders can be proud of.”

Teachers Kim Mott and Amy Crawford lauded the benefits for educating students if the schools consolidated. They said being in one building would allow teachers to collaborate more, older students to mentor younger students and more. Families would feel more integrated into the school.

A parent wanted to make sure the handprints second graders create on the walls of Bergen Meadow as they move to Bergen Valley are preserved as a legacy.

Consolidation concerns

Several were concerned about daily school traffic clogging Sugarbush Drive and the potential for devastating consequences if Bergen Valley needed to be evacuated in case of a wildfire.

Parent Brent Kaslon asked the board to consider, instead, a new school on the current Bergen Meadow location because it’s more centrally located with better traffic access on flat land with a fire station next door.

Parent Joe Spirk said he didn’t believe Bergen Meadow fit the school district’s profile for school closure, so its closure should be reconsidered. According to school district data, only 44% of the Bergen Meadow building is being used with about 193 students, and Spirk said he didn’t believe those numbers were accurate.

Another parent was concerned about Bergen Valley being close to an Xcel substation, which is on the north side of Evergreen Parkway east of Fillius Park. She also was concerned about how the school district was spending money and wanted to know what would happen to the $5.3 million earmarked for improvements to Bergen Meadow thanks to a 2018 bond approved by voters.

At a previous meeting, a school district official said that money from the 2018 bond would be used to help fund the addition to Bergen Valley.

Schools’ history

Bergen Meadow on Hiwan Drive was built in 1970. It was known as Bergen Elementary School, and it housed all elementary school grades. Before the pandemic, enrollment at Bergen Meadow was 238 in the 2018-19 school year and 249 in the 2019-20 school year.

Bergen Valley on Sugarbush Drive about 1.7 miles away was constructed in 1997 on 17.3 acres to provide more space for the overcrowded Bergen Elementary. The building is 42,281 square feet that has a capacity of 336 students.

Bergen Meadow and Bergen Valley — known together as The Bergens — share a principal; buses; a PTA; a digital teacher librarian; art, music and physical education teachers; mental health professionals and more.

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