Five Star Pre-Schooler Chooses Bird over Westerly

In what is becoming an arms race between Stapleton Elementary Schools, officials from each school tirelessly recruit top kindergarten prospects during the months leading up to the school choice deadline. “The landscape has completely changed,” says longtime educator and recent recruiter Mike Stevens. “It used to be where you just had to attend your boundary school. Then, parents were empowered to make a choice. But, once schools realized they could be doing more to encourage those exceptional pre-schoolers to attend their school, things got out of hand quick.”

Sofia Potter (4) and her family have been courted by every school in the Stapleton area. “We were committed to having her attend a Stapleton school,” says Sofia’s father Josh. “So, we told all of the others schools early in the process, thanks, but no thanks.” Potter says that schools have done things like sending her school clothing, birthday presents, having the principal visit the home, and one school even closed school on a weekday so that Sofia and her family could walk around to see the building. “It has been an interesting experience for sure,” said Potter.

Ultimately, the Potters and Sofia chose Isabella Bird over Westerly Creek during a small press conference in front of a select group of friends and family. “They have been after her from the beginning,” says Potter. “We have a lot of respect for the other Stapleton schools, but the personal attention that our daughter received has been fantastic. We trust that the school will continue to develop our daughter, and keep her on her current track of success.”

The press conferences are just one thing that Stevens says is wrong with the current environment. “It puts a lot of extra pressure on the schools,” said Stevens. “We are seeing these press conferences more and more, and it sends a message to the families that the students are in control and not the schools. Not to mention, of incoming kindergartners in Stapleton, less than 20% are actually recruited. The parents of the kids who weren’t recruited not only feel bad their child wasn’t recruited, but they start to worry if the recruited kids will be treated better. Something needs to be done to slow this down.”

The Potters feel there is more stress on recruited kids than non-recruited kids. “If you’re a recruit, you are expected to perform,” says Potter. “And not just in the classroom. These kids are being recruited to be good at sports, music, plays, and to be leaders on the playground. If they don’t perform up to expectations, there could be blowback from the school officials.” Recruiting seems to be in full swing already for the incoming class of 2016, but DPS and school officials are planning to meet to see what restrictions, if any, they can place on school recruiting.

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