Snowy Peaks pauses applications for next school year after surpassing capacity |

Snowy Peaks pauses applications for next school year after surpassing capacity

Snowy Peaks school is pictured Nov. 12, 2020. The school has 97 students enrolled in the 2021-22 school year, which surpasses the building’s capacity of 80 students.
Liz Copan/For the Summit Daily News

Snowy Peaks High School will not be accepting applications from eighth through 12th graders for the 2022-23 school year after surpassing its building capacity.

At a Summit school board meeting Thursday, Feb. 10, Interim Superintendent Roy Crawford said the school will be creating an interest list in lieu of its typical application process. All Snowy Peaks students apply to attend the school, which offers a nontraditional education that focuses on building relationships between staff and students in a small environment.

The school has a building capacity for 80 students but enrolled 97 in the 2021-22 school year, according to official enrollment numbers, which Chief Finance Officer Kara Drake presented at the board’s Jan. 27 meeting. That puts the school at 121.3% of its total capacity.

“That’s problematic,” Crawford said at Thursday’s meeting. “We try to take as many kids as we can; … however, the fact of the matter is (the school) is full.”

In the time in between the Jan. 27 meeting and Thursday’s meeting, Snowy Peaks Principal Jim Smith met with district leaders to devise a plan to address the growing enrollment at the school. Ultimately, Smith and the district leaders decided on pausing applications and creating an interest list.

“What I will always remain committed to is assessing our roster, taking a look at our class sizes and doing what we can to serve as many students as we can without jeopardizing the integrity of the program,” Smith said.

Snowy Peaks plans to graduate around 13 seniors in the spring. However, most of those slots will be filled by incoming seventh grade students, who will still be able to apply to the program, Smith said.

Any students older than seventh grade will be put on the interest list. If spots open up throughout the year, Smith will look through that list to approach students about attending.

In the meantime, the district is looking at building more supports within Summit Middle School and Summit High School. Many Snowy Peaks students have specific circumstances — such as health issues, social-emotional needs or academic struggles — that allow them to benefit from the small class sizes and one-on-one relationships at the school.

Board member Lisa Webster said it’s important to make sure those students aren’t forgotten over the next year.

“Typically, it’s our highest needs kiddos that have been applying to that school,” Webster said. “Some of these students, we don’t want them falling through the cracks.”

Crawford said he will be meeting with Summit Middle School Principal Greg Guevara and Summit High School Principal Tim Ridder to expand upon the schools’ support for students who are struggling in the typical academic setting.

“Are there ways that we can meet needs more directly within their own buildings without having to access Snowy Peaks?” Crawford asked.

While pausing applications and implementing an interest list solve the capacity problem in the short term, board members said the district needs to look at ways the school can adjust for increased demand in the long term.

“This is a passionate group of people, and they don’t want to say ‘no’ to anybody next year or any other year. This is purely out of necessity,” board member Chris Guarino said. “So I would love to work more closely with (Smith) and facilities and really figure out ways that we can continue to expand this program and maintain that intimacy.”

Smith said he’s looking forward to those types of conversations and finding ways to meet the demand for the school. For example, other alternative schools around the state, like Red Canyon High School in Eagle and Aspen Valley High School in Colorado Springs, are housed on multiple campuses to split up grades and maintain the small school environment.

Snowy Peaks has not yet released information on how students can be added to the school’s interest list for the fall.

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