Denver scraps an idea to convert an old elementary school into teacher housing

Neighborhood residents balked, pushing the district to reopen an elementary school there instead.

Denver's Rosedale Elementary was closed by the district in 2005 to save money. Rosedale is located at 2330 South Sherman Street in Denver. (Melanie Asmar/Chalkbeat)
Denver's Rosedale Elementary was closed by the district in 2005 to save money. Rosedale is located at 2330 South Sherman Street in Denver. (Melanie Asmar/Chalkbeat)
Denver’s Rosedale Elementary was closed by the district in 2005 to save money. Rosedale is located at 2330 South Sherman Street in Denver. (Melanie Asmar/Chalkbeat)

By Melanie Asmar, Chalkbeat

A vacant elementary school in south Denver will not be turned into teacher housing.

That’s the latest word from Denver Public Schools, which last summer pitched the idea of converting the old Rosedale Elementary into rental housing for its educators. Neighborhood residents balked, pushing the district to reopen an elementary school there instead.

But enrollment predictions do not forecast a need for another school, Liz Mendez, the district’s director of operations support services, said in an email. Even though the number of students in the region is expected to increase modestly over the next few years, there is enough capacity at existing schools to handle the growth, according to a recent district analysis.

So for now, Rosedale will remain empty. Mendez said the district will keep looking for ways to help its teachers find affordable housing, a challenge facing school districts across the country. It’s especially acute in gentrifying Denver, where the average rent for an apartment is more than $1,300 per month.

The base salary for a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree this year is $41,689, though teachers can earn incentives and bonuses on top of that.

The Denver school board passed a resolution in September pledging to explore solutions to the affordable housing crunch, including using its own real estate. But Mendez said that option is not among those the district is looking at right now.

Here is the full email statement from Mendez about Rosedale:

First, we want to thank the Harvard Gulch community for thoughtfully engaging with DPS staff regarding the future use of the Rosedale building. We were presented with valuable questions and concerns from neighbors throughout the process.

The Fall 2017 Strategic Regional Analysis confirmed previous forecasts that the elementary seats available in the southeast region are sufficient to meet elementary enrollment needs through the time period examined (through 2022).

As a result, there are no current plans for the Rosedale building.

DPS is continuing to work with outside partners to improve the availability of more affordable housing for our educators. The housing efforts we are currently exploring do not include repurposing underutilized school buildings such as Rosedale.

We will once again engage the community regarding any potential uses for Rosedale in the future.

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.