Abby Cobb is a third-grader at the soon-to-be-closed Whitman Elementary School. She’s in the Gifted and Talented program and will be transferring …
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Abby Cobb is a third-grader at the soon-to-be-closed Whitman
Elementary School. She’s in the Gifted and Talented program and
will be transferring to Moody Elementary starting in the fall.
She’s one of 400 students who will be adjusting to one of six
new schools, after a decision by the board to close Whitman and
Ames Elementary schools, due to declining enrollment.
Eight-year-old Abby and her mom Ange, an active PTO member, were
skeptical about attending Moody.
They were advised to try to get into Runyon Elementary, but
several unsatisfactory phone calls to the school, Ange Cobb said,
forced her to give up.
That’s when a receptionist at Whitman suggested that Cobb set up
an appointment with Moody Elementary Principal Doug Andrews.
“He spent an hour giving us a tour of the school,” Cobb said. “A
lot of it didn’t apply to Abby, but he was making [us] comfortable
with the decision we were making.”
The part she’s most comfortable with is her daughter’s new
Gifted and Talented teacher who is a product of a GT program.
“She’s been there and wants to make sure there’s no spotlight on
these kids, it’s not elitist, they’re not made fun of,” Cobb said.
“She, as well as the school, make a concerted effort to integrate
GT students into normal activities.”
Cobb went on to say she no longer has “no hang-ups” about Abby
attending Moody in the fall.
But Christine Oury, a parent of two boys at Ames Elementary, has
a few. Her boys, ages 10 and 6, are on a waiting list at Lenski
Elementary, which is within walking distance from their house.
By default, they’ll both be attending Franklin in the fall.
Oury said they’ll either ride the bus or she’ll have to drive
them to school.
“I’d like to know what we’re doing with transportation,” Oury
said. “Where’s the bus stop, because they can’t walk anymore.”
In the next breath she added, “Change happens but that doesn’t
make it right.”
Oury is part of a group of parents who fought to keep Ames open,
and who believe the decision to close the school was politically
“Sure enrollment is low, but something is happening no one knows
about,” she said.
Board members said the decision to close Ames and Whitman was
based largely on the fact that both schools have a history of
declining enrollment and have been the smallest schools in the
district for some time.
Ames, while one of the district’s best-performing elementary
schools, is at 49 percent capacity.
The school has had declining enrollment for the past 23
Whitman is at 64 percent capacity, and has seen enrollment
declines for 14 years, according to officials.
“Data shows that this pattern of enrollment decline is projected
to continue despite achievement gains,” said district officials in
a news release. “(The decline) will make it very difficult for the
district to continue financially supporting these schools in the
“If they really wanted to keep the school open, they could
have,” Oury said. “I still don’t think it is right, but I want to
make the best of it, and make it a great experience for my
Oury says her family received a welcome package from Franklin
Elementary a few weeks ago, but hardly gushes over it the way Cobb
Her husband toured the school and met the teachers, and seemed
to like them, Oury said.
The six receiving schools are eager to welcome these new
families, yet are sensitive to the needs of these families to take
time for closure at their current school, said Littleton Public
Schools Director of Communications Diane Leiker to the school board
at the April 9 meeting.
Leiker is one of six district officials making up the Transition
Team, which has been meeting once a week since November to
coordinate the closures and transition.
Outreach efforts by Moody and Franklin Elementary schools are
part of the Transition Team’s goal to “assure schools can continue
with the business of student learning, rather than on the
Members of the Transition Team also noted that 23 teachers from
Ames and Whitman were displaced due to closures.
All 23 of those teachers have been interviewed and placed in
positions at district schools.
Ames and Whitman Elementary schools will host family nights in
the spring to say goodbye.
The receiving schools also will host family nights in the fall
to acquaint students with their new building.
“I still don’t think it is right, but I want to make the best of
it, and make it a great experience for my kids.”
Christine Oury, mother of two former students atAmes Elementary,
about the school’s closing
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