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Denver school board votes to close STRIVE Prep – Kepner charter school

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Denver Public Schools’ Board of Education voted Thursday to close STRIVE PREP- Kepner, a charter school in southwest Denver, at the end of the academic year.

Superintendent Alex Marrero recommended closing the middle school because of low test scores, with a memo noting that STRIVE PREP- Kepner also has a “high financial risk.”

STRIVE PREP — Kepner opened during the 2016-17 school year and had 209 students during the 2021-22 academic year.

The board voted 6-1 to not renew the school’s contract. Auon’tai Anderson, whose term ends later this year and who is running for re-election, was the only director to vote against the superintendent’s recommendation.

Ahead of the vote, Anderson said he did not “disagree” with the district’s findings that the school is under- performing, but he did not believe there was adequate community engagement around the decision.

“I just can not endorse the process of school closure,” he said, adding that this is the first time in about a decade that DPS has not renewed a charter school’s contract.

The school board has been reluctant to close schools despite being faced with such decisions in recent months.

In the fall, Marrero proposed closing 10 schools to combat low enrollment, but the school board voted against the plan. Directors, including Anderson, had criticized the plan for not engaging enough with families potentially affected by the closures.

The school board also voted against closing Montbello Career and Technical High School last year. The district originally recommended closing the school, saying it could not stay on the same campus as another school — Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy — next year.

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