The tiny Rico School will permanently close its doors at the end of the 2017-2018 school year.
On Wednesday, the Dolores County RE-2J School Board unanimously approved a resolution to close the school by June. In their decision, they cited the school’s enrollment of only seven students, as well as the costs of keeping the school properly staffed and maintained. The school serves preschoolers, first-graders, and third-graders. It has seen declining enrollment over the past several years.
In a letter sent to Rico residents on Friday, RE-2J Superintendent Bruce Hankins said the decision was "difficult," but also "inevitable." He said the school was no longer able to meet students’ academic and social-emotional needs, and that they would be better served at Dolores or Telluride schools.
Many students from Rico already attend school in Telluride. Hankins said he had been in contact with the Telluride School District about annexing the Rico school into its boundaries. That decision would require the approval of voters in both the Telluride and Dolores County districts, and RE-2J officials hope to add the measure to the November 2018 ballot. In the meantime, they plan to host periodic community meetings updating residents on details of the closure and plans for the future.
Rico Town manager Kari Distefano told KSJD some residents think the closure may not last forever.
“It’s my hope that we’ll build up enough of a population for us to re-open the school, at least for grades K-3,” she said.
Correction 3/12, 2:45pm: A previous version of the story stated the school serves preschoolers and kindergartners. Teacher Rebecca Pugh tells KSJD the school serves preschoolers, first-graders, and third-graders. The story has been updated to reflect that information.