District 51 quietly working on plan that involves firing over 50 teachers in Fruita

Fruita 8/9 School, August 2022 (Photo: Facebook)

AnneLandmanBlog received the following communication this morning titled “A Huge Concern,” from a D-51 teacher who wants to get word out about the School District quietly moving forward with a plan to fire over 50 Fruita-area teachers, many of whom have over 20 years of experience:

I teach at the 8/9 school and have been there for 17 of the 18 years it has been open. The district has been moving to reconfigure the school for a year now. We have been expecting this, and while there are many differing opinions as to the wisdom of this move, we resigned ourselves to accepting it. 


Yesterday [D-51 Superintendent] Dr. Hill and district leadership meet with the [Fruita] 8/9 [school] staff to communicate their plan. They are saying it is only a recommendation to the board, but we all know what is going to happen. The District sent out communication to everyone, I included it below. However they glazed over the most relevant part:


They are displacing all Fruita 8/9 staff. So at the end of the year all staff at my school is fired (just like they did at East). Fruita Middle [School] staff will keep their jobs and just move buildings. Whatever positions are leftover, and created at the high school, 8/9 staff can apply for. They are saying the same thing they did to East teachers. We are guaranteed a position somewhere next year if we have our professional licenses. Probationary teachers are not. They stated that there will not be positions for all of us between FMS and FMHS. This includes every staff from custodian to principal. 


I can’t begin to tell you how devastated we are. And then, instead of communicating that, the District skips that part in the communication out to everyone. They did not admit to firing over 50 employees, many of us with 20 years or more of experience. 


I know you will keep me anonymous (as I can’t have my name out there as someone who has complained. I have to be able to have a job next year) but I am hoping you can help us get the word out about what they are really planning. I work with some of the most talented and dedicated teachers and staff that you could ever imagine. We were [in] the school building that was temporary, that was never supposed to work, but we have for 18 years. We have the highest performing 9th graders in the valley and an incredibly low turnover rate of staff. To be dismissed, to be fired with such careless disregard is deeply unnerving. I know nothing will change their plans, but not telling the whole truth is unacceptable. 


Thanks, Anne, for your dedication.
[Author’s name withheld.]

D-51 Superintendent Brian Hill

Below is the communication District 51 sent out to Fruita area school staff about these changes. As the writer indicated, it contains no mention that the District’s plan involves firing more than 50 Fruita-area teachers, many of whom are highly qualified with over 20 years experience:

Dear Fruita Area School Staff,

I hope all is well. As you know, on March 9, 2023, the Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution directing the Superintendent to “begin working with District staff to make the recommended and necessary changes needed to transition the secondary schools in the Fruita area to a traditional grade configuration of grades sixth through eighth and ninth through twelfth.” This resolution was passed after a January 2023 survey to Fruita area families and staff showed that 70% of the 1,400 respondents supported a grade reconfiguration. District 51 has been exploring a pathway to reach the goal of having the secondary school grade configurations match the secondary grade configurations across the district. A reconfiguration of the grades in the Fruita secondary schools would create a 6th-8th grade Fruita Middle School and a 9th-12th grade Fruita Monument High School (“FMHS”).

This topic has been discussed by the district for years as the building currently housing the Fruita 8/9 school, built in 2006, was originally constructed to be a second middle school in the Fruita area to accommodate planned growth. Due to the overcrowding at that time, the building currently housing the Fruita 8/9 school was temporarily used as an 8/9 configuration. That temporary usage has remained in place for 18 years. The 2018 D51 facilities master plan established goals to normalize the grade configuration in the Fruita secondary schools.  The 2019 bond, which unfortunately failed, had plans to add additional classrooms to the FMHS campus.

Since 2019, District 51, similar to districts across the state and country, has experienced a decline in student enrollment of approximately 1,800 students due to a myriad of factors. The Fruita area schools have not been immune to that decline. Specifically, Fruita Middle School, Fruita 8/9, and Fruita Monument High School have seen a decline of over 420 students. Early projections for next year show that number could grow to almost 550 less students in these schools since the decline began in 2019. A decline in students means a decline in per-pupil funding as a district, which means a decline in funding for staffing at schools. Fruita area secondary schools have already experienced some staffing cuts due to declining enrollment, but they haven’t experienced the full effects of the decline. This year, in order to not cut staffing at these schools to the point where it negatively impacts programming we utilized one-time ESSER grant dollars to fund over 9 unfunded FTE positions. That’s over $800,000 in unfunded positions, and it isn’t sustainable. If early projections for next year hold true, the number of unfunded FTE in the Fruita secondary schools would grow to over 13 unfunded FTE, which is over $1.2 million in unfunded positions. These are dollars that we do not have as a district, and ESSER funds expire after this school year.

In order to reconfigure the secondary school grades in Fruita to a traditional 6th-8th Fruita Middle School and a traditional 9th-12th FMHS, and to avoid having to cut over 13 unfunded FTE in the current secondary schools in Fruita, something has to change. We have been working on a plan since last spring, and we are proposing to the Board of Education, at their December Board Work Session, that we close the Fruita 8/9 School at the end of the school year, moving the 9th grade to FMHS, and move the Fruita Middle School program from their current building to the building currently housing the Fruita 8/9 School. If approved, the new grade configurations would start in the 2024-25 school year and would not impact the spring semester of the current school year. Next year, we would fully staff the 6th through 8th Fruita Middle School and 9th-12th Fruita Monument High School with the appropriate level of FTE based on the new student enrollment. Early projections are showing a 669 student 6th-8th FMS and a 1,530 student 9th-12th FMHS. If the Board decides to close the Fruita 8/9 school at the end of the 2023-24 school year, work will begin to temporarily add four D51-owned modular buildings to FMHS to ensure enough classroom space through the transition.

We realize that there is a lot to process from this news, and this doesn’t include all of the information and data behind the recommendation. We have shared this information, and more, including how our HR department will support staff through this transition, in a presentation with the Fruita 8/9 staff at a meeting after school today. We will share the presentation with the FMHS and FMS staff on Monday, as well, but we wanted to make sure we sent out information now to provide some clarity. I encourage you to continue to stay engaged throughout the process, livestream the Board Work Session at 5 p.m. on December 12 when we present this to the Board of Education and the Board Business Meeting on December 19 where a vote could take place, and feel free to send any questions to communicate@d51schools.org. Thank you for being engaged and supportive partners with us, and thank you for being a part of the D51 Family.

  13 comments for “District 51 quietly working on plan that involves firing over 50 teachers in Fruita

  1. Anyone that can read or formulate an original thought sees that this lady is desperate for attention with this blog. The pathetic attempts to make something out of nothing is just pathetic. It’s amazing that someone can look straight in the face of logic and say, “Not today, logic. Not today.” Stop giving this child attention, and maybe she will go away.

  2. I was a staff member at the Fruita 8/9 School and am heartbroken to hear the staff is breaking up. During years where they measured the health of organizations the 8/9 was always the highest-rated secondary school. They have the highest test scores for freshmen and their freshman also have the most credits going into 10th grade. They are a family committed to student success and I can’t imagine what they are going through.

    I am very concerned that uncredentialed and unlicensed staff will keep their jobs over non-probationary (tenured), experienced, and licensed staff. (for example, in math and counseling)

    Is this because of money? Because the Fruita 8/9 School has so little turn over, it makes sense their teachers make more money than those at FMS. I heard the district is floating a possible buy-out. Telling veteran teachers they need to find a new job will certainly encourage some to retire early.

    I heard in the Denver area that schools used a “merger” process when they closed schools to guarantee staff jobs. Why can’t MCVSD#51 do that. It is time to be creative and look for options to protect your staff.

    The District has moved boundaries to create this situation. It was inevitable, but I hope they reconsider how they deal with staff and take a responsible and empathetic approach.

  3. The insidiousness of this is obvious to thinking people. The right wing zealots are the ones indoctrinating and grooming our children at Charter schools to promote the white patriarchy way of life. Whitewashing the past of our great country. I learned to think in public school where I also learned about our blemished past. Our Public School Educators and Staff should be championed not thought about AFTER the damage is done.

    • The attitude reflected in this comment is exactly why students are being enrolled in other forms of education. The writer of this comment deserves to lose his position. I have volunteered at the Loma school and those teachers were honest, ethical and respectful of students and parents. If only we could go back to those type of teachers.

  4. It appears as though all will have jobs, it would appear that way from the outside – 8th grade teachers stay and become 8th grade at middle school, and freshman teachers move to FMHS to teach over there….not the case at all!
    We have all elective teachers, support staff, custodial, administration, counseling, librarian, secretaries, cafeteria staff, etc…
    There are no plans to interview for the highest qualified or best fit – just a see ya later, we will find a place for you.
    I don’t believe this is best for your kids.
    All positions should be open and the best person for the job should be hired. The 8/9 staff is just gone – we have nothing but hears of experience, a love for the kids we teach but no chance.

    • That’s exactly what the political right and xtian nationalism has been trying to do across the country for years now. Move everyone to charter schools so they can pump them full of creationism, history revisionism, and abstinence-only sex education, all while lambasting public schools for “grooming” and “indoctrinating” children.

  5. Why is it so very difficult for the School District to be transparent in their dealings? Is there a pattern of “quiet, underhanded dealings both the County Commissioners with Public Health and the SD Board along with the SD?

    • People should support governmental organizations running within their budget. Declining enrollment means less money in the district. Less money means some things need to be cut back. It’s economics 101. If the district does not act wisely, then services across the entire district will be impacted. People need to ask themselves, what would you do with your family budget? Would you continue to run in the red, or would you make practical financial plans?

      The district letter clearly said there were more details but they wanted to get initial communication out to the public. That does not sound like they are lying or hiding info. It appears they are trying to be stewards of their financial resources and to communicate effectively.

      Tax payers should support sound financial decisions. This sounds like a sound financial decision to solve a problem that will only get more complicated.

      By the way, Colorado has a HUGE teacher shortage – which includes all support staff too. Any educators and/or educational support staff who want to work will be able to find a replacement job. It might be in a different neighborhood or a neighboring distrct, but that is not unreasonable. Many people commute and/or due to employment.

      I support this plan of action, and D51 parents should look at this as solving a problem. If the district does not act now, the impacts across the system have the potential be much much greater and impact more students and families.

      • I would not rubber stamp new charter schools and then act shocked about declining enrollment. But then I am not an ideologue bent on destroying public education.

      • If jobs need to be cut, that is a fact of budgets. The problem here, however is that they are not being fair or transparent about how they are deciding who stays and who goes. If they have 13 “unfunded” positions, why do they need to cut 50 people?

        Then they send out surveys asking how to improve employee health and wellness? That takes a lot of nerve.

    • My understanding is a non-probatationary teacher or counselor (tenured) is guaranteed a job for a year. If they don’t get hired by another school, the district has to pay them and will probably make them a long-term sub. If they are not hired for the subsequent school year, then they can be let go.

      The teachers with less than 3 years, who are probationary, have no guarantees.

      I am not sure what this looks like for the classified staff like secretaries, para-professionals, custodians and cooks.

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