By Dillon Thomas

WINDSOR, Colo. (CBS4) – The Weld RE-4 School District, which serves predominantly the towns of Windsor and Severance, is approaching a capacity issue within their schools as the region booms with new housing. However, with voters recently striking down an initiative to add new schools while replacing outdated ones, the district says they have a “problem with no clear solution” on their hands.

(credit: CBS)

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Preliminary results from the November election showed a majority of voters in the district rejected a bond that would have replaced the aging Windsor Middle School while also providing funds to build additional schools and expand others.

In a statement provided to CBS4, the district said many of their classrooms are already at capacity. With hundreds of new homes being built every year, the district anticipates almost 2,000 new students to enroll in the coming years.

Several parents CBS4 spoke with said they were shocked when they heard the measure didn’t pass. Ryan Filsinger, a Severance resident who has two students in the Weld RE-4 District, said the amount of farms being replaced by housing developments made him realize the need for more schools.

“(A couple years ago) there was nothing basically between here and Timnath, and now it is all houses,” Filsinger told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “In the past year and a half, the whole area around me has been surrounded by homes.”

CBS4 reported on recent power issues in new communities near the Windsor and Timnath border. Both Xcel Energy and elected officials in Windsor said the outage could likely have been avoided if greater infrastructure was available before the communities were built.

Even new residents, like Jenna Floss, said they were caught off guard by the outcome of initiatives 4A and 4B, which would have addressed classroom availability in the district. Floss said her family recently moved from the Chicago suburbs to Windsor in search of a healthier and better lifestyle. Coming from one of the largest cities in the country, Floss said she couldn’t help but to notice the boom of the Windsor area.

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“It is unbelievable. I never in my wildest thought (of) how fast people would be buying houses,” Floss said. “There’s an overabundance of people and families here.”

Floss said she noticed her children’s classrooms have more students in them than the classrooms they once had in Illinois. She said she assumed the rapid growth of the region and the ratio of teachers to students would have been enough to secure enough votes.

“My husband and I were really shocked by that because we were all for it,” Floss said. “We were shocked as to why parents wouldn’t want newer schools.”

A resident speculated that Windsor and Severance’s average population age may have played a role in the decision. The community is popular among retirees and others who are empty nesters, making the desire and cost for more schools less attractive.

One man said his wife, a teacher in the district, was devastated when the measures failed to secure enough votes.

CBS4 requested for an interview with leadership within the district. The district issued the following written statement:

The 2021 bond has always been about asking for what our district needs to best serve our students. A 37-page demographic report released this spring made clear what we can all see when we drive through our Weld RE-4 neighborhoods—growth in our communities is outpacing the capacity of our schools to serve students. Today, with the rejection of issues 4A and 4B, we have a problem without a clear solution. However, we remain optimistic.

We believe that our community will come together to create a solution. While there is much we can productively debate and diverge on, putting students first and continuing to prioritize their learning is not one of them. On that, we agree. We truly believe Weld RE-4 is a community committed to children, to education, and to having schools that rank among the best in the state.

This election outcome will in no way distract or deter from the district’s day-to-day mission. We remain dedicated to providing our students with educational opportunities that inspire innovation and empower success. We remain focused on five priorities: Learning, Teaching, Leadership, Professional Learning, and Wider Community.
“Wider Community” will be even more of a focus as we work to build stronger relationships between the district and our community to plan for the future. In the next five years, Weld RE-4’s enrollment is expected to grow by nearly 1,900 students. With schools already at or over capacity, Weld RE-4 schools will lack the space to serve them.

We must work together to come up with solutions that meet the enrollment demands of our growing community, as well as its vision for education in Weld RE-4. Our re-elected school board colleagues will be sworn in later this month. Leading the important planning work regarding the district’s approach to meeting aggressive enrollment demands now and in the immediate future will be a top priority.

Filsinger said he hoped the district would be able to secure more classrooms and teachers during the next election.

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“The more kids you put in a classroom the less attention they get, the less one on one they get. You have to have to expansion of the schools,” Filsinger said. “With all the people that are moving over here, where are you going to put them all?”

Dillon Thomas