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Denver's Rosedale Elementary, located at 2330 South Sherman Street.

An organization has expressed interest in buying the Denver school district’s sole remaining shuttered elementary school, Rosedale, and turning it into a private school.

Denver Public Schools has not revealed the name of the organization or the details of the offer. But Deputy Superintendent of Operations Mark Ferrandino said the offer has set in motion a public conversation about what to do with the southeast Denver elementary school, which was closed in 2005 to save money.

“The offer is what triggered it but that doesn’t mean yes, we’re going to go sell,” Ferrandino said. “It means let’s talk to the community. All the options are on the table.”

In addition to selling to the interested organization, the district could seek out other bids, lease the building, reopen it for use by the district as a school or something else, or leave it mothballed.

An idea to turn Rosedale into affordable housing for Denver teachers was scrapped two years ago after pushback from the neighborhood.

At the time, several neighbors said they wanted the district to reopen Rosedale as a public school. With just 12 classrooms, it would be among the district’s smallest.

But district officials said there were already enough schools serving the neighborhood. A new enrollment analysis released last month predicts flat to declining enrollment in that part of southeast Denver over the next five years, a trend seen districtwide.

Ferrandino said it would cost between $12 and $15 million to renovate Rosedale so it could be reopened — an estimate considerably higher than the $8 million figure cited two years ago. The increase is due to inflation and the rising cost of construction, he said.

It will be up to the Denver school board to decide the building’s fate. But Ferrandino said if the district decides to sell, it would put out a request-for-proposals before choosing a buyer.

Though the offer from the private school group came in last spring, Ferrandino said the district waited to discuss it publicly until new school board members were elected in November. Now that the new board is seated, the first public meetings will happen in February. The district has not yet released the dates, times, or locations of the meetings.

     

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.

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