PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) — A magnet middle school in Colorado Springs with a focus on aviation and Pueblo City Schools are among 30 schools in Colorado in their fifth consecutive year of low academic performance. Under Colorado's accreditation rating system, those schools are considered to be failing and could face state sanctions.
Schools that don't improve could face closure, state takeover or mandatory conversion to a different type of school under a 2009 state law.
Action against the 30 schools was scheduled to begin this year, but it was delayed because of new standardized state tests, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported Saturday (http://tinyurl.com/pa384y3 ). A spokeswoman for the Colorado Board of Education did not return phone calls seeking comment on Friday.
School officials are warning that if the state intervenes, parents, teachers and students need to understand there will no longer be local control for some turnaround schools.
"I think it's time that everybody in Pueblo take seriously the idea that if we don't all buckle down and start working together — I'm talking parents, teachers and students — to get these achievement scores up, this is the last opportunity. After this, the state makes their recommendation, and they could potentially take schools away from the school board. They could remove the entire school board," Pueblo City Schools district school board member Rose Holloway said.
The state Board of Education has scheduled meetings with officials from school districts that have been in either turnaround or priority improvement status and are entering the fifth and final year on the accountability clock.
At a meeting on April 9, Pueblo City Schools officials will try to convince the state board that they have made progress on student achievement and they are working hard to boost achievement in an effort to improve the accountability rating and stop the clock.
Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy in Colorado Springs is also under scrutiny. Principal James Nason, who taught math and was an administrator in California, was brought in three years ago to help turn the school around.
The school is in a poor area of the city, and nearly 90 percent of its students are from low-income households.
One strategy has been to provide dinner for children who stay after school for additional lessons. Community assistance with school uniforms also has helped families, Nason said. There is also school on Saturdays for students who need more help with schoolwork.
"I think we're doing a good job," he said. "I also think we have a long way to go. The school didn't get into the position it's in overnight, and it won't get out overnight."
Information from: The Gazette, http://www.gazette.com