By Jamie Leary

DENVER (CBS4) – Parents, teachers and students gathered outside the the Colorado Board of Education in downtown Denver demanding change and attention to a school district in major need of repair.

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(credit: CBS)

For Adams County School District 14, low test scores, low attendance and low graduation rates have been issues for years. After the districts failed attempts to turn things around, the CBOE may have to take drastic intervention.

The district has faced criticism recently, following students complaints over lunches, but one student says that is far from the actual issue.

“Problems with the curriculum, problems with their schedules, they [students] don’t feel like their schedules are helpful,” said Kevin Clark, Senior Class President at Adams City High School.

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Kevin Clark (credit: CBS)

Students aren’t motivated to come to class, and Clark feels like it could be due to teacher turnover.

“A lot of the reasons for why the teachers left last year is because of administrators. About 20 of the probationary teachers in our school were not renewed,” he said.

Clark says a majority of the teachers he had as a freshman are gone. He says the teachers he had helped him succeed. His grades are good, but his classmates are struggling because of the turnover.

“They’re failing their classes, and there aren’t any resources or support there for them. Maybe it’s because there’s no staff that they know or have bonds or ties with.”

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Kevin Clark speaks to the Colorado Board of Education. (credit: Kevin Clark)

The issues at Adams City High School mirror what has been occurring district-wide. Because of performance on tests and graduation rates, the CBOE put the school district on what it calls the accountability clock in 2010.

Eight years later, college entrance scores and graduation rates are still not where they should be for certain schools within the district. Adams City High School included.

Clark feels like the administration is starting to hear the concerns the students have, but more needs to be done.

“If the students felt like they could voice their concerns, and they were at least being listened to, things would be better. They would feel more motivated to go to school because people are working hard to make their education better.”

He believes the teacher retention rate needs to turn around as well.

“Now we have this huge influx of students coming into the high school, and then we have this big fresh group of teachers that have never been here, that have never served our community and I mean, they’re on new ground right? And I feel like it’s going to take time for them to adjust, but I just feel like the longer it’s taking them to adjust, the more that we’re failing on our students.”

Clark is among several pushing for a Community School Plan. A plan that would increase community partnership with the school.

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(credit: CBS)

The teachers union spoke to the CBOE about the plan over the summer and was asked to submit a proposal to the local board. A spokeswoman for the CBOE told CBS4 that “this is the right place for this conversation to start.”

This plan is not in the list of defined actions the state board can consider, but there is nothing from stopping the local board from trying to set the plan in motion.

Several calls to Adams 14 were not returned to CBS,4 but it told Chalkbeat in September,

“We will have to prove to the state board that we are serious this time,” said Alex Sanchez, the district spokesman. “We’ve been at this eight years, and we need to be reflective of those eight years and make sure we are moving forward with an actual plan that will truly address the needs of Adams 14 children.”

The CBOE will hold a hearing in November at which point it could vote to continue to monitor the progress of the district or make drastic changes, such as closing down schools or reorganizing the district.

Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.

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