Talks begin on the future of Rosedale Elementary

Neighbors advocate for it to re-open as a public school

Christy Steadman
csteadman@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 2/3/20

Being a neighbor of the school for about 25 years, Pam Pritzel remembers when Rosedale Elementary was lively with students. “Schools add to the vitality of neighborhoods,” Pritzel said. “Denver …

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Talks begin on the future of Rosedale Elementary

Neighbors advocate for it to re-open as a public school

Posted

Being a neighbor of the school for about 25 years, Pam Pritzel remembers when Rosedale Elementary was lively with students.

“Schools add to the vitality of neighborhoods,” Pritzel said. “Denver Public Schools needs to be good stewards of that property.”

Pritzel, among others, believes there is enough community support for the district to re-open Rosedale as a public school.

“This neighborhood is teeming with young families,” she said, adding schools are a deciding factor for people when choosing the neighborhood where they will purchase a home and raise a family. “A school is ideal for that property.”

Rosedale Elementary, 2330 S. Sherman St. in Denver, closed in 2005. But now the empty school is the center of attention for many of its neighbors.

Denver Public Schools, which owns the Rosedale property, received a letter of interest from the Archdiocese of Denver. The Archdiocese proposes to renovate the building and reopen it as a private high school that would accommodate about 400 students.

No decisions on the fate of the Rosedale school have been made yet, said Mark Ferrandino, the school district’s deputy superintendent of operations. Particularly because the district wants to include the neighborhood in those discussions, he added.

“There’s a broad spectrum of what the district can do” with Rosedale, Ferrandino said. “The community surrounding that site needs to be a part of those conversations.”

Options include reopening it as a public school, leasing the property, leaving the property in the current state or selling it.

But there are some considerations that need to be taken into account. Ferrandino estimates it would cost between $12-$15 million in renovations to get the school up to par to host students again. This includes electrical work, fire safety, installing an HVAC system, ADA, etc.

“It needs a lot of updating,” Ferrandino said. “The codes have changed a lot in 15 years.”

If a sale were to occur, the Denver Public Schools Board of Education would be the final decision-maker. Additionally, a potential sale would not be limited to the Archdiocese of Denver, Ferrandino said. The district would issue a Request For Proposals, and within that, there would be guidelines set forth by the community. Then the proposals would be subject to a committee review process.

These initial conversations are not whether to sell it or not, Ferrandino said. “It’s a conversation about the future of Rosedale.”

When Rosedale Elementary school closed, enrollment was low — it had only 134 students enrolled its final year. The school’s capacity is about 300 students.

Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization that covers education, reported in January that another reason for the closure was to save money.

Neighborhood students now attend Asbury Elementary, 1320 E. Asbury Ave., which is within Rosedale’s boundaries and is about a mile away.

Parents may also choose to send their children to McKinley-Thatcher Elementary, 1230 S. Grant St., about two miles away from the Rosedale school.

Two elementary schools in the Englewood Schools district are also less than two miles away.

As for capacity in the nearby Denver Public Schools, Rosedale is not needed to accommodate students, Ferrandino said. However, projected enrollment will be included in the conversations about Rosedale, he added.

Daniel McAllister, an advocate for re-opening Rosedale as a public school, argues that neighborhood schools are important for the families in the community. A commute on foot from the Rosedale school to Asbury is too far for elementary-school aged children to do on their own, McAllister said. Especially so because the children would have to cross two busy streets — East Iliff Avenue and West Evans Avenue.

Therefore, school children in Rosedale either have to be bussed to a school outside of their neighborhood or their parents have to drive them, McAllister said. And that’s in addition to many of the parents having their own commute to their workplace every day.

Those aren’t the only reasons a local school is valued in a neighborhood, McAllister said. “A neighborhood school gives the students an opportunity to go to a school they’re proud of.”

Along with getting Rosedale re-opened as a public school, McAllister would like to see the building get historic landmark status. Rosedale Elementary opened in 1924 and served kindergarten through fifth-grade students. It is 41,000 square-feet and two stories. Its architecture is Victorian Gothic style. There are also rumors that a time capsule is buried under one of the stone planters in the front of the school, McAllister said.

“It’s too nice of a building to just fall apart,” McAllister said.

McAllister, a Denver Public Schools graduate himself who is currently an educator at Skinner Middle School in northwest Denver’s Berkeley neighborhood, developed a fondness for Rosedale Elementary through his father. Ray McAllister served Denver Public Schools as a maintenance worker for 35 years before retiring in 2001.

Rosedale’s situation is sad, Ray McAllister said.

Anytime “a school closes,” he added, “it takes something out of the community.”

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