Honor Rolled

Parents in Boulder say their school-board members lied to them.

Even Garnett admits that some "mistakes were made in the process" of choosing to consolidate schools, but he stands behind the board's decision.

"A lot of meetings were held at the schools affected by the consolidation, and I heard concerns that district staff didn't make the public feel their input was welcome," he says. "But boardmembers answered hundreds of e-mails and phone calls; we did hear parents' concerns. People involved in consolidation in other districts will tell you unequivocally that there is no good process. If we took too long to make a decision, we'd get criticized for dragging out the public's agony. But since we made a decision quickly, we got criticized for doing it too fast.

"I don't mind people disagreeing with the board's decision," Garnett adds, "but it does get under my skin when people say we don't have our facts straight or that we haven't thought this through. There is nothing more painful than closing schools and watching the disruption it creates and having to constantly explain what we're trying to accomplish."

At Majestic Heights, where teachers and students in the neighborhood portion of the school have been working happily alongside those in the Boulder Community School of Integrated Studies since the focus program moved in more than two years ago, the consolidation carries a lot of emotion.

"We are two schools but one community," says principal Betsey Krill.

"I don't think any of us want to think about the last day of school," adds special-education instructor Donna Ewing. "We really are a family here."

Three years ago, when space constraints forced Ewing to relocate from her original classroom to one half its size, Krill gave Ewing several cans of paint so that she could make her new room feel like home. Kids dipped their hands in the paint and left their imprints, in the form of words spelled out in sign language, on the walls.

"I promised myself that when I move out of here at the end of the year I'd cut a piece out of the drywall and take it with me," Ewing says, fighting back tears. "I need a piece of this place after ten years."

Gabby Templet contributed to this report.

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