Your guide to school choice in Jeffco Schools

School choice has been a core feature of Jeffco Schools since the 1990s, offering students multiple options. Jeffco students can choose from 17 option schools, 21 charter schools or any neighborhood school, if space is available.

School choice is available to any Jeffco family, as well as families who reside outside Jeffco, through a process known as “choice enrollment.”

Currently, 36 percent of Jeffco students are choice enrolled in Jeffco Schools. In addition, another 6,750 students from outside Jeffco have also choice enrolled in a Jeffco school, according to the 2017-2018 Jeffco choice enrollment data.

School choice: Jeffco neighborhood schools – in your neighborhood or a different one

One school choice families consider is neighborhood schools. Neighborhood schools exist throughout the district and typically educate students in that neighborhood or area.

“While neighborhood schools have a shared commitment to providing a quality education to all students, each school is a unique reflection of the students, staff and families it serves,” says the Jeffco website.

Many neighborhood schools also offer special programs like STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), career/technical education, leadership, arts programs, gifted and talented centers, special education centers and academic emphasis areas.

Each Jeffco student is assigned a specific elementary school, middle school and high school based on the student’s address.

However, families may enroll students in a neighborhood school other than the one to which they are assigned. Schools accept applications during the choice enrollment period, which typically begins in January, and accept choice-enrollment students as space permits.

School choice: Jeffco option schools

Jeffco option schools offer another choice with a particular educational focus. Those can range from highly structured programs to experiential learning to technical training.

Option schools are also public schools, and include a range of choices to serve students at any age, from kindergarten through twelfth grade, throughout the district.

Every student who attends a Jeffco option school must choice enroll at that school. Jeffco’s current option schools include the following:

Brady High School – Lakewood

Brady High School is an alternative high school in Lakewood that serves students who have been unsuccessful in a traditional high school environment. The school uses a fast-paced, student-centered learning environment to help students work toward their high school diploma and to facilitate a successful transition to a post-secondary program.

Students interested in enrolling at Brady High School must attend an informational meeting in order to receive an application for the eStart/Orientation course.

Connections Learning Center – Golden

Connections Learning Center provides a small, structured, educational setting for students in grades 6-8. Students have an opportunity to explore post-secondary and career options through Career and Technology Education courses. Students are referred to CLC from their current school or by other school officials.

Dennison Elementary School – Lakewood

Dennison Elementary has been a Jeffco option school serving K-6 students since 1974. It features whole-group, teacher-directed instruction, and students are not grouped by ability. The school emphasizes basic skills and textbooks as the basis for sequential instruction.

D’Evelyn Junior/Senior High School – Denver

D’Evelyn was founded in 1994 as a secondary school with a challenging liberal arts program. The school focuses on core academic subjects that build a foundational understanding that is crucial for all subsequent learning. Families wishing to choice enroll at D’Evelyn must attend a parent information night. Choice enrollment is done by lottery, though first priority is given to students who live in Jeffco and have a sibling currently attending D’Evelyn who will also be enrolled the following year. Students at Dennison Elementary School receive second priority.

Free Horizon Montessori – Golden

Free Horizon Montessori offers a Montessori education to students in grades K-8. The school will also be Jeffco’s newest option school beginning with the 2018-19 school year. Free Horizon originally joined Jeffco as a charter school in 2002, and approached the district about becoming an option school early in 2018. The change was approved by the Jeffco School Board on May 3.

Jeffco’s 21st Century Virtual Academy – Lakewood

JVA prepares a diverse population of students for a successful future through rigorous online and blended coursework, staff connections and alternative pathways to graduation and college and career readiness. Any Colorado student in grades 6-12 may enroll at JVA. JVA offers three programs: middle school, high school and TAG (Targeted Actions to Graduation).

Jeffco Open School – Lakewood

Created in 1970, JCOS was the first Jeffco option school and offers a viable alternative to conventional schools. The Open School serves grades pre-K-12 with multi-age groupings throughout the school. Curriculum encourages student ownership of learning, demands documented or demonstrated competency of graduation expectations, and allows for a highly individualized path towards graduation. Graduates realize their unique potential through self-direction, shared responsibility and meaningful experiences.

Long View High School – Lakewood

Long View High School, a small alternative high school, is the smallest comprehensive public school in the Denver Metro area. Serving 60 students in grades 10-12 with four teachers and support staff, Long View provides a dynamic learning experience for teens who, for a variety of reasons, did not thrive in traditional high school environments. Its small size allows staff to get to know the students, their needs and their learning styles. Interested applicants must first attend an information meeting, submit an application and attend an interview with a panel of teachers to determine if Long View can meet the student’s educational needs.

The Manning School of Academics and Art – Golden

The Manning School of Academics and Art (formerly known as The Manning School) was established as a Jeffco option school in 2001 to challenge all students to work to their highest potential. A 6-8 middle school, Manning’s philosophy is based on the guiding principles that all students can achieve in an environment that includes rigorous standards for academic excellence, high expectations for student conduct and a close partnership between home and school. New this school year, Manning “will have an arts focus by including extensive arts offerings throughout our master schedule for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders,” according to the school website.

McLain Community High School – Lakewood

McLain Community High School welcomes alternative learners who need an education in something other than a traditional high school setting. “Each of our students has a story. Nobody here is a faceless student number in the middle of yet another classroom,” their website notes. The majority of McLain students are working, parenting, volunteering and/or enrolled in a Warren Tech program.

McLain offers affordable child care services for students who are also parents. Its programs include Alternative Cooperative Education (ACE) and Achieve Academy, both of which prepare students for work and college. McLain also offers a LIVE program that provides experiential, direct and highly-interactive instruction for students. The school also offers an adult high school program, CB, with day and evening schedules for students who are older than 18.

Fletcher Miller School – Lakewood

Fletcher Miller School provides an interactive and interdisciplinary academic approach for students with unique medical, physical, social/emotional or communication needs. The school provides instruction that meets the needs of each student at his or her level, while focusing on making sure that students are in or are moving to their least restrictive environment.

Mount View Youth Services Center – Lakewood

Mount View Youth Services Center is a Jeffco option school based in a Department of Youth Services site. As a “school of second chances,” it provides educational opportunities to students currently at the Department of Youth Services. The goal is to provide education and support with the hope to return those students to a better path.

Sobesky Academy – Wheat Ridge

Sobesky Academy offers a program designed to meet intensive emotional, behavioral and related academic needs of students with identified emotional disabilities. The school offers social skills training, counseling, group counseling and other supports to help students develop the skills necessary to be more successful at their home school.

Warren Tech – Lakewood & Arvada

Warren Tech is a career and technical school that offers a number of career-focused programs for high school students. Open to high school juniors and seniors 16 years and older, Warren Tech offers programs in health sciences, public safety, hospitality and skilled trades. These include programs from welding or automotive collision repair to cyber security, emergency dispatch, medical assisting and more. All Warren Tech programs offer concurrent enrollment in partnership with Red Rocks Community College.

Because Warren Tech itself is not degree-granting, students balance their day between their current high school and Warren Tech. Typically, students attend their high school half the day and Warren Tech the other half.

School choice: Jeffco charter schools

Another school choice option includes the district’s many charter schools. Charter schools are also public schools, but differ from neighborhood or option schools because they are operated by a school-specific board of directors comprised of parents, teachers and community members.

Charter schools operate under a contract with the Jeffco School Board, but are managed by their local charter board. The local charter school board ensures student success through oversight of the school’s educational program, financial planning and day-to-day matters.

The district provides support services for Jeffco students while focusing on results in student learning, fiscal matters and accountability requirements. This typically allows charter schools more flexibility to use alternative educational approaches.

According to the Jeffco Schools website, “Jeffco Public Schools believes that charter schools strengthen its goal to provide great educational choices for Jeffco families.”

Jeffco charter schools offer a variety of options ranging from Montessori schools, a Waldorf school, a Classical school, an arts integration school, Core Knowledge schools and charter schools that serve unique student populations.

Montessori Schools

A Montessori school follows the educational philosophy of Maria Montessori. Students typically spend two to three years with the same teacher and learn in mixed-age classes. Montessori teachers act as facilitators and guides, focusing on working with individuals and small groups. Teachers integrate academic content rather than compartmentalizing it into separate subjects.

Jeffco has three Montessori charter schools:

Free Horizon Montessori, which operated as a fourth Jeffco Montessori charter school, will operate as an option school beginning in 2018-19.

Classical Schools

Classical schools are based on the concept of Trivium education (grammar, logic, and rhetoric). These schools also often use a Socratic approach to teaching. Jeffco has one classical school that serves students in K-12: Addenbrooke Classical Academy in Lakewood.

Golden View Classical Academy, which operated as a second Jeffco classical school, is in the process of transferring its charter to the Charter School Institute (CSI) for the 2018-19 school year.

Waldorf Schools

Mountain Phoenix Community School in Wheat Ridge is a Waldorf charter school guided by the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. Serving students in grades pre-K-8, it focuses on art, music, experiential learning and scientific inquiry to inspire students to become creative thinkers.

Arts Integration Charter Schools

Doral Academy in Westminster offers an arts integration education to K-8 students. Doral’s educational approach combines project-based learning incorporating music, dance, theater, visual arts and media production. Teachers use specific arts-integration methods and strategies to enhance learning in all academic areas.

Charters that serve unique populations

The New America School in Lakewood helps new immigrants, English language learners and underserved students learn English and earn a high school diploma. The school educates students ages 14 to 21, equipping them with the tools and support they need to “live the American dream,” according to their website.

The Rocky Mountain Deaf School in Denver is a Jeffco charter school that provides a bilingual education for deaf and hard-of-hearing children in grades pre-K-12. The school offers full proficiency in American Sign Language (ASL) and English, as well as rigorous academics.

Two Roads Charter School, with campuses in Arvada and Littleton, primarily serves both home-schooled students and full-time K-12 students. The school offers maximum class sizes of 22 and focuses on creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication. Two Roads also offers a condensed school day for full-time athletes and artisans.

Core Knowledge Charter Schools:

Jeffco also offers a number of Core Knowledge charter schools. These schools follow a detailed outline of content that is organized in a spiral through the grade levels for grades K-8, becoming more sophisticated and detailed in each successive grade. Jeffco’s Core Knowledge charter schools include:

Jeffco’s school choice enrollment process

Families who looking at choice enrolling should start the process by visiting the school or schools they are interested in, either during an interest night or by making an appointment. Schools typically hold interest nights between October and January.

The next step is to go to the Jeffco Schools choice enrollment webpage and print the general enrollment application. Schools also often include a link to the application from their website. Families must submit choice enrollment applications to the school or schools that the student is interested in during the choice enrollment period.

First-round choice enrollment typically begins in early January and typically closes two to three weeks later. Shortly after the first-round deadline, schools notify families about whether their student was accepted or will be put on a wait list.

Second round choice enrollment begins after the first round closes and continues until the beginning of the next academic year. This year, the last day for the second round of choice enrollment is August 31.

Amanda Pfeifer

Amanda Pfeifer

Amanda Pfeifer has lived in Jefferson County since 2008 and has two children attending a Jeffco charter school. She has a BA in Computer Science and worked as an IT Business Analyst before moving to Jefferson County. When she’s not volunteering in the classroom or school library she spends her time reading and doing other wellness activities, like yoga and swimming. Please visit our "About Us" page to learn more about Amanda and our other writers.