Arapahoe Community College is closing its Parker campus after the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education agreed to sell the building to the Douglas County School District on May 11.
The school district plans to use the building as a space for alternative education, offering courses in business, marketing, project management, graphic design and textiles.
The sale is part of a deal between ACC and the school district in which the college will lease space in the Lone Tree area. The building, recently purchased by the district, used to house The Wildlife Experience.
“This is a great opportunity to reinvest in a more strategic and intentional presence in our Parker/Lone Tree service area,” Fuji said in an email to staff, according to the Arapahoe Pinnacle. “Strengthening our partnership with DCSD in building programs, increasing enrollment, and meeting workforce training/education needs.”
The district has been working on the alternate education campus since 2018 when ballot issue 5B, a $250 million bond, was approved by voters to fund the project.
The district was originally planning to use a site on Pine Drive in Parker for $21 million but pivoted when costs increased during the pandemic. The cost of purchasing the ACC building is $7.5 million and the sale is set to close May 31. The school board unanimously approved the purchase during a February 22 meeting.
The school will offer all the high school core classes in a project-based learning format, said DCSD spokesperson Paula Hans.
“By senior year students will have applied for patents, published research and made impacts in their own communities as a result of their core classes,” she said.
The program will include work-based learning where students will work with experts, coaches and mentors, including in internships and apprenticeships.
DCSD plans to open the campus in August of 2023. The building has 10 classrooms and will be able to accommodate about 150 students.
The building, located at 15653 Brookstone Drive, is next to Chaparral High School.
The goal of the alternate education program is to “create and sustain a small, personalized learning experience for students that is research based and develops post secondary readiness,” according to a presentation to the school board.
“So many of our kids need smaller, more personalized learning experiences,” said LeeAnn Hayan, an alternative education principal in the district. “They don’t see themselves in their learning and they don’t understand how their current learning experiences might help them choose a future career pathway.”
ACC students at the Parker campus were able to learn subjects like psychology, public health, and criminal justice. They could also receive EMT certifications.
While overall enrollment at the school has been steady, the Parker campus saw a 12% decrease since Fall 2022, according to a memo from the State Board of Community Colleges and Occupational Education.
ACC will use a space in the building for student counseling twice a week.
In the Wildlife Experience building, ACC and junior and senior DCSD students will be able to enroll in EMT, advanced robotics, nursing building energy maintenance and smart grid technology courses beginning this fall.