DPS "Tweak" Triggers North Stapleton Secession Threat

Community leaders in Conservatory Green, incensed by Denver Public Schools’ plan to disregard community input and effectively separate North and South Stapleton for school admission purposes, announced Thursday that they will petition to join the new state of North Colorado in protest. “We’ve signed petitions, we’ve responded to surveys, we’ve attended meetings, yet nobody seems to care,” said resident Ben Strassburg. “At this point, we feel our best option is taking our ball and going home. To a new state.” Fellow homeowner Jessica Clark agreed. “I moved from the South End to Conservatory Green because the models looked lovely, plus I wanted fiber-to-the-home and a friendly environment for urban gardening,” she said. “But nobody ever said that’d mean my kids can’t go to Swigert! So yeah, we’re seceding from Colorado, because f*** y’all.” Asked whether secession was an overly drastic step under the circumstances, Strassburg responded, “Desperate times call for desperate measures. Maybe if Eastbridge had threatened back in 2008 to join Kansas or something, they’d have a town center and a park by now, and Swigert would have been built where Isabella Bird is.” Strassburg is the chairman of a newly formed organization called the “Group of United North Stapletonians,” or “GUNS.” He explained the group was so named in hopes that its acronym would help Conservatory Green’s mostly liberal residents “fit in better” with the conservative rural Coloradans who started the “51st state” movement, inspired partly by their opposition to recent gun-control measures. “We come in peace, farmers and Tea Partiers and gun nuts,” Strassburg said. “Uh, excuse me, ‘2nd Amendment enthusiasts,’ I meant to say.” “We have more in common than you know,” he added. “You cling bitterly to your guns and religion; we cling bitterly to DPS’s broken promises. You hate Obama with an irrational passion; we hate Tom Boasberg with an irrational passion. You’re xenophobic about Mexicans; we’re xenophobic about Aurorans. Let’s do this!” Conservatory Green’s push to join “North Colorado” could rejuvenate a flagging movement. Referendums earlier this month on whether to pursue secession from Colorado failed in 6 of the 11 counties voting on the issue – including Weld County, where the idea was first born. Only Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Phillips, Washington and Yuma counties voted “yes,” and although that bloc has a land area equivalent to Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island combined, its population of roughly 29,000 people is barely five percent that of the least populated state, Wyoming (576,000 residents). The area’s tiny population, combined with the formidable legal and constitutional barriers to statehood, has led many observers to declare “North Colorado” a lost cause. But Conservatory Green leaders say they are not deterred by those concerns — nor by the fact that their neighborhood is more than 60 miles away from the westernmost border of the would-be seceding counties. “The Green Book hasn’t stopped Forest City and DPS from doing what they want, so why should the U.S. Constitution stop us?” Strassburg said. Strassburg said local leaders had also considered the possibility of petitioning to join Commerce City instead, but rejected that idea because “we don’t want to do anything crazy.” The neighborhood’s secession threat was triggered by DPS’s newly announced plan for elementary school admissions, which would have the effect—for at least as long as the current population “bubble” persists—of freezing out North Stapleton residents from any realistic chance of admission into the most popular South Stapleton schools (unless an older sibling is already enrolled). The DPS plan differs from the Stapleton United Neighbors plan, which would incorporate a small element of geographic preference for each school’s immediate surrounding area, but would otherwise give all Stapleton residents, whether north or south of I-70, equal access to all Stapleton schools. DPS announced its plan last Wednesday, describing it as a “tweak” to the SUN plan. Asked to elaborate on what she meant by “tweak,” DPS spokeswoman Amy Geary said, “It’s a ‘tweak’ in the same sense that the Affordable Care Act tweaked the U.S. healthcare system. Or, like, how the Nuggets’ lineup was tweaked by the trade that sent Carmelo Anthony and four of his teammates to the Knicks, in exchange for four new players and three draft picks. You know — a minor, mostly insubstantial change. A tweak.” Geary said DPS had to make “tweaks” because the SUN proposal would “increase busing costs.” Strassburg, however, dismissed that argument as “garbage,” noting that the status quo — pure open choice, with no geographic preference — would have the maximum imaginable busing costs. “SUN’s plan only ‘increases’ costs compared to a nonexistent, closed-boundary fantasy world,” he said. “Busing costs are rising organically because of the continuing development of Stapleton, and because DPS screwed everything up with the timing and location of the existing schools,” Strassburg added. “Swigert is basically Eastbridge’s school, and Izzy Bird is basically Central Park West’s school, which makes no damn sense at all. But they’re stuck with it, because Stapleton residents are constantly making babies, so every family has like four kids spaced two years apart, with an ‘anchor baby’ in the school they like. All of the younger siblings follow behind, which creates a huge legacy of cross-boundary busing. It’s not SUN’s fault and it’s not our fault. It’s DPS’s fault.” “Hey,” Strassburg added, “did you hear that, Kit Carson County? I said ‘anchor baby.’ See, we can be friends!” ]]>


  1. Brilliant, just brilliant. God forbid we have to be like the rest of the nation, where you go to the school near your house and you fight like hell to make it the best school you can. No, we get to discuss why an IB school isn’t “right” for our 4 year old.

  2. Keep choice, create proximity zones and bump up proximity priority from 25% to 50% and cut busing for those who can afford it but grandfather in all existing busers and siblings – problem solved.
    Choice is intact
    Proximity is increased
    Transport budget is cut
    The system remains flexible enough to deal with future population patterns and can be amended if need be.

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