Parents discuss future options for Frisco Elementary
summit daily news
Rumors of Frisco Elementary’s demise are, apparently, greatly exaggerated. Last month, a meeting was held to discuss the future of the school amid rumors it might be in danger of closing. Interim superintendent Karen Strakbein and Frisco Elementary principal Renea Hill both dispelled stories about the school, and assured the group that it will remain open.
Hill said she didn’t know where the rumor began, and the meeting was held for parents who were given “misinformation.”
“We were just there to make people feel better,” she said. “We reassured them that we’re not planning on closing the school.”
Julie McCluskie, Summit School District’s climate and communications director, said no Summit County elementary schools are at risk of being closed or consolidated, despite budget cuts from the state. The passing of the mill levy in November helped save the school from financial worry.
Even so, the school does have a lower student population than other elementary schools in the county, and the notion of it closing if the budget got really small is not out of the question. During the meeting, suggestions were made to boost student population numbers. Ideas included: Becoming a magnet school for the district’s gifted program, mandarin chinese, or STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) studies, moving the boundaries for Frisco students to include the Farmer’s Korner and Gold Hill area; and expanding preschool programs.
Hill said ideas presented were all from parents; they were not anything the district brought forth.
“We gladly accepted their ideas for the future of Frisco, but that’s truly a district decision,” she said.
Jo-Anne Tyson, a parent volunteer in the Frisco Elementary Parent-Teacher-Student Association, said the suggestions were all “viable options” that could draw more in-district, out-of-district, and even homeschool kids to the school.
Parent David Cunningham said he is in favor of suggestions made by parents at the mid-January meeting to boost student population, especially those about becoming a magnet school. He said he knows of several Frisco families who travel to Dillon Valley Elementary for its dual-language program.
Frisco Elementary has 193 students this school year, down from over 200 last year. Hill said the number fluctuates every year.
Tyson said Frisco Elementary’s small size was part of what prompted the meeting; parents were also scared of losing staff members.
Frisco town manager Michael Penny said about three-quarters of Frisco’s 3,000 residents are second-home owners, about a 1 percent increase from before the recession. He said those statistics have driven town council to discuss affordable housing to draw more year-round families to the town.
The school has an open enrollment system. Penny said about 60 percent of the kids who go to the school live in Frisco.
Cunningham, who has two children who attend the school, said the sad part about Frisco is that there aren’t many young children in town anymore.
“We have an aging population,” he said.
Cunningham said he was involved in the successful property tax override for the school district last November. The override kept $2.1 million in the school district and helped prevent cuts within Summit County schools. He said the election “stabilized everything.” He had heard both Frisco and Breckenridge Elementary schools would have had significant cuts had the override failed. He said he was concerned about his children’s school being “in the crosshairs” before the measure passed, but the community stood behind its school system.
McCluskie said the measure seems to have saved the school district’s budget; state cuts might have been a worry for the schools without it. The district will find out what additional cuts are coming from the state level in a month or two, but McCluskie said the district feels confident about its financial status.
“We are so fortunate to be in a healthy financial state,” she said.
Cunningham said he and his wife, along with friends from the Summit County community, love Frisco Elementary for its teachers, students, small classroom size and community involvement. He said he knows several people who live outside town who drive their children to Frisco every morning for those reasons. He said he feels the school’s central location in the county helps keep student population up.
Tyson said she doesn’t think any permanent decisions will be made concerning the school until the district has a new superintendent.
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