Rachel Zenzinger for Colorado Senate District 19
Rachel Zenzinger
Colorado Senate
February 5, 2017
School district proposes closures in SD19

Last week we received disappointing news from Jeffco school district about a proposal to close two schools in Senate District 19: Swanson Elementary and Peck Elementary. T his proposal was part of a larger list of recommendations to address the impact of  limited funding, the failure of 3A/3B, and declining enrollment. 

The entire proposal totals over $20 million in reallocations and includes a reduction of 136 staff positions.  The Board will give some direction on the proposed reallocations on  Feb. 9 , though the budget will not be final until  May 9 .  

The District conducted several community meetings to discuss the recommended closures. I attended a meeting at Swanson Elementary on Monday, followed by Peck Elementary on Tuesday. Parents, teachers, and students in attendance rightfully demanded answers from the district about how we got here and what will happen next.  I was very proud of the community members who spoke up or sent emails detailing how amzaing their schools are and how disappointed and unfair this situation appears to be. Here are a few excerpts: 

"We are much more than a building. These are experiences and community building moments that help to create a great school....We are a highly rated school with a great reputation....Families move here to go our school, families choice into our school, because of the high quality education their kids get. Our community is confused how a highly successful school can be closed."

"Our daughter is in her second year there and has made excellent progress in her reading skills thanks to the great team of teachers and specialists that work there. Why would you break up the teachers you have there that perform so well together?"

"Closing schools is devastating for students, their families, the team of teachers and staff, and the community. What are we communicating to families and the community when we close down a really well performing school because our building may be older than others? How is it fair that we close a good school with a team of teachers that have become family, that takes students to rise high above what they are expected to do?" 

This is an extremely difficult and painful situation for all involved, including the school board that is faced with making this decision. Nevertheless, I believe we as a community must rally behind these schools and implore the district to make cuts that do not result in school closures.

I'd also like to encourage community members to educate yourself on the state of school finance here in Colorado. It's a c omplex issue resulting in a constitutional straitjacket in which immediate options are limited. Our best hope is that the JBC (Joint Budget Committee) will find creative ways to minimize the growth of the negative factor. Several of my colleagues in the House are working very hard to address the consequences of the imminent decrease in the residential assessed value rate (due to the Gallagher formula), and I stand ready to join the fight in the Senate.

Here is a link to an excellent  Colorado Public Radio story that highlights some of the problems. And if you are interested in joining an advocacy group that is working to make progress on our state school funding crisis, please connect with Great Education Colorado

There are still opportunities for public input about the Jeffco proposal, namely the online budget tool (open through  Feb. 10) and I highly encourage you to take a look and offer your feedback. Please feel free to send or copy me your stories and appeals to the Board, and I will post or highlight them on Facebook and/or my website. And finally, be sure and express your opinion to the Jeffco School Board prior to February 9. 

Community meeting at Swanson Elementary to discuss school closure proposal
What we heard this week

Most of the communication this week was about SB17-113, a bill that would cap employer contribution rates for PERA, the Public Employees' Retirement Association. Also, we heard from quite a few sportsmen and women who value public lands for hunting and fishing, and requested that I actively pledge my support for America's public lands legacy and reject efforts to transfer federal public lands to individual states. And finally, we are starting to hear from folks about SB17-061, concerning the distribution of additional operational funding to charter schools. 

Check out the senate calendar for updates on bills and if you'd like to listen to the debate remotely, here is a link to watch and listen Thank you for communicating about these issues and please let me know if you have thoughts on any other bills. 
Rachel Zenzinger
Rachel Zenzinger won election to the Colorado State Senate, representing District 19, in November 2016. Previously, she served in the same capacity during the 2014 legislative session. During the upcoming, 71st General Assembly, she will serve on the Senate Education Committee, Transportation Committee and the Student Safety and Youth in Crisis Committee.
Upcoming One Colorado event in Arvada

Join One Colorado, the state's leading advocacy organization for LGBTQ Coloradans and their families, for their "We Are One Colorado" tour stop in Arvada on  March 1st  to find out how they plan to build on--and protect--their victories and continue to advance equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Coloradans and their families. They will also present the findings of a statewide LGBTQ needs assessment that was conducted in 2016.

What: We Are One Colorado Tour: Arvada
Where: First United Church of Arvada, 7195 Simms St, Arvada CO 80004
When:  Wednesday, March 1  from  6 - 7:30 pm

Coffee With Constituents returns to Indian Tree

Join us for "Coffee With Constituents" on the second Friday of each month from 7 a.m. - 8 a.m. at the Indian Tree Golf Course, 7555 Wadsworth Blvd, Arvada,  for complimentary coffee and great conversation. There is an option to purchase breakfast if interested. The first event will be on Friday, February 10. See you then! 
Tracking your Senator
On Monday I joined MPACT64 a coalition of local governments to discuss transportation options...I attended a community meeting at Swanson Elementary Monday to discuss potential school closures...On Tuesday, I joined a rally on the Capitol steps to oppose the repeal of Colorado's Health Care Exchnage...I also met with students from CSU's School of Social Work to discuss various issues...later that evening I attended the Peck Elementary community meeting about the potential school closure... On Wednesday I met with Vicki Pickett, Arvada's Communications Center Manager to discuss issues related to 911...I also met with Governor Hickenlooper on Wednesday, along with several colleagues from the House, to discuss a variety of issues including transportation and school funding... I attended the Housing Colorado luncheon on Thursday... and we celebrated "National Wear Red Day" on Friday as part of the American Heart Association's effort to raise awareness for heart disease in women...also on Friday I met several students from SD19 who came to speak to me about the benefits of Historic Preservation

Rally on Capitol Steps against repealing the CO Health Exchange

If there is an event that you think I should attend, please notify me !  

Can you help us with a contribution? While the campaign activity has concluded, we still need your help so that we may continue keeping in touch with SD19 voters. Your contribution helps us pay for brochures, direct mail, the website, newsletter, and other tools to help make voters aware of what is happening down at the State Capitol. THANKS!  



Helpful Links
Contact Information
200 E. Colfax Avenue
Room 339
Denver, CO 80203
Find Rachel Zenzinger, Arvada City Council on Facebook! Follow Rachel Zenzinger, Arvada City Council on Twitter! Connect with Rachel Zenzinger, Arvada City Council on LinkedIn! Read our Blog!