I continue to be in awe of our students, staff and families who have shown incredible resilience and flexibility throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it may feel difficult to look to the future and plan ahead in our current context, it is critically important that we continue to do so for our students. The APS community has shared repeatedly over the past several years that APS students need more district-run college and career choice options. That will be the focus of Blueprint APS moving forward.
- Community Voice: Our community-driven process started back in 2017 with thousands of community members providing input through interviews, focus groups, town halls, surveys and Board member-led community meetings.
- Community Need: With rapidly changing enrollment, APS needs a plan for the future. This plan needs to address how to equitably provide more opportunities for students throughout our district.
- Community Choice: The APS Community is demanding more college and career choice options for students, which will be provided through regional specializations.
Last week during the APS Board of Education meeting on Oct. 20, Board members approved seven regional specializations, which will frame how we provide robust college and career choice options. The seven specializations are: One Health; Business Management and Hospitality; Visual Design and Performing Arts; Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM); Technology, Engineering and Design; Entrepreneurship and Invention; and Project-Based Learning. Please see the regional specializations below.
Schools in each region will leverage assets within its boundaries to provide students with meaningful learning experiences that align with the specializations. Programming will be designed and rolled out over the next three to five years. This will include at least one magnet school option within each region.
It is important to highlight that students will have the ability to choose to attend a magnet school in a different geographic region than their neighborhood school. In addition, APS will still provide regular boundary school options throughout the district for families that do not choose a magnet school. Regional specializations are meant to provide additional opportunities. They will not take away from the foundation of boundary schools that will continue to provide rigorous learning in math, english, social studies and science every day.
You may have noticed that some APS schools already have a “specialization”. For example, Tollgate and William Smith specialize in Expeditionary Learning (EL). However, APS does not currently have a districtwide strategy around specializations or any way to address equity with access and transportation. Blueprint APS is a long-term plan to bring intentionality and equity to how APS directs its resources to serve families.
In order to bring this plan to life, we will need to make difficult decisions about repurposing buildings throughout our district. This has become critical in light of the sharp enrollment declines that we are experiencing. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a concerning impact on our enrollment as well for school districts across the metro area. We need to begin addressing the financial implications as quickly as possible.
Planning for repurposing buildings will begin this school year with changes starting by the end of the school year. Repurposing buildings may include:
- Reconfiguration of grade levels that a school building serves to emphasize APS’ P-8 model
- Using repurposed buildings for magnet schools, community centers, other choice offerings, or other district uses
- Consolidation of school buildings
- Closing of school buildings and/or selling assets.
Repurposing efforts will start by focusing on regions 2, 3 and 6 in order to meet the more urgent financial concerns that have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the next few months, we will be sharing as much information as possible. We will be intentional to especially engage our communities in regions 2, 3 and 6.
As we face more transition and change in the coming months, I ask that we come together as much as possible. All of us are committed to ensuring that every APS student shapes a successful future. I thank you for your continued support and partnership.
- Superintendent Rico Munn