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Denver recommends closing an alternate highschool

A small different highschool in far northeast Denver might shut if the college board follows a suggestion from district leaders.

Denver Public Colleges leaders are recommending that Montbello Profession and Technical Excessive College shutter on the finish of this college yr, partly to make room for one more college. Montbello Profession and Technical, which serves college students who’re off monitor to graduate, shares a campus with an HBCU-style highschool, Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy, which opened final yr.

However sharing a campus will now not be viable after this college yr, in line with the district’s written suggestion. Montbello Profession and Technical has about 70 college students this yr. Robert F. Smith presently has about 150 ninth- and tenth-graders and plans so as to add eleventh and twelfth grades over the following two years. The constructing holds 275 college students. If Robert F. Smith provides one other class of scholars subsequent yr, the constructing can be over capability.

As an alternative, district leaders are recommending closing Montbello Profession and Technical and sending its college students to 2 different different colleges in far northeast Denver: Vista Academy and Legacy Choices Excessive College. Vista Academy is 2 miles away.

The brand new Montbello Excessive College, a close-by complete that reopened this fall, additionally plans to supply credit score restoration and GED lessons, the advice says.

Students stand in front of the doors of a building that houses two high schools.

College students stand in entrance of doorways to a constructing housing Montbello Profession and Technical Excessive College and Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy.

Melanie Asmar / Chalkbeat

The advice to shut Montbello Profession and Technical is separate from a high-profile dialogue about learn how to consolidate Denver elementary colleges. Enrollment is declining in elementary colleges, and a district committee has provide you with recommended standards for when to shut small colleges. However the superintendent has not put it into observe but.

Different colleges, which Denver calls pathways colleges, would possible be exempt from any closure standards based mostly on enrollment. Pathways colleges are designed to be small to provide extra individualized consideration to college students who’re susceptible to dropping out.

Montbello Profession and Technical was beforehand referred to as P.U.S.H. Academy. Earlier than the district closed the previous Montbello Excessive College, it served as the college’s credit score restoration program.

The thought for Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy got here from a gaggle of Black dad and mom and neighborhood leaders in far northeast Denver. In a first-of-its-kind step in 2019, the college board directed the district to work with the group to hone their utility to open a brand new district-run college modeled on traditionally Black faculties and universities, or HBCUs. 


Najja Shakir Al-Islam fingers out papers to college students on the primary day of college at Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy in August 2021.

Kevin J. Beaty / Denverite

The varsity board permitted the college, then referred to as the Michelle Obama STEAM Academy, in August 2019. (The varsity was renamed after Robert F. Smith, a Denver graduate described by the district as “a Black American investor, inventor, engineer, philanthropist, and entrepreneur.”) 

However the college didn’t have a location. In November 2020, the board permitted briefly co-locating it with Montbello Profession and Technical for 2 years. It opened in August 2021.

“The district shall proceed to seek for a long-term facility placement for the Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy,” the college board’s 2020 decision mentioned. “District employees shall be approved to take any cheap actions essential to facilitate mentioned placement.”

The varsity board was initially scheduled to listen to the closure suggestion at its assembly Thursday. However the board voted to delay the advice till Oct. 6. The rationale for the delay was so the member who represents northeast Denver, Michelle Quattlebaum, who wasn’t at Thursday’s assembly, could possibly be current for the dialogue.

A vote on the closure suggestion has not but been scheduled.

Melanie Asmar is a senior reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado, overlaying Denver Public Colleges. Contact Melanie at



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