District 11 pleased with public input

       Two-thirds of the way through the public brainstorming process on school reutilization, District 11 Deputy Superintendent Mike Poore said he is pleased with how it is working out.
       “I think it's been positive,” he said, noting that attendance has exceeded 100 people every time but one. “People are starting to think a little out of the box. They're getting creative about the possibilites, and a lot of scenarios are being thrown out about how to save money, how to recruit students and what to do about schools that are over-utilized. It's helping us shape a recommendation that puts together what the community as a whole is seeking to do.”
       Going into Jan. 15, four of the six meetings around the district that had been scheduled to gather public ideas on the complex issue had been held. The meetings come on the heels of a consultant's report last fall and principals' suggestions in December. The district has summarized the problem as a steady drop in enrollment, causing under-utilized schools and expenses that are no longer affordable.
       Following the last citizen meeting Jan. 20, Poore and other D-11 administrators plan to finalize a proposal for Board of Education review at a work session Feb. 4, followed by a public hearing Feb. 11.
       Westside schools are mentioned frequently in the draft reutilization document that's being made available to meeting participants. It offers a range of ideas, not all of which could be followed, such as Westside school closures, realignments, consolidations, additions (at a few over-utilized schools) and magnet-program migrations.
       Yet the Westside meeting at Coronado High Jan. 8 did not result in any overt clashes between staffers and citizens. In fact, Poore praised Westsiders for helping make the Coronado High meeting Jan. 8 “one of the smoothest we've had.” A key reason for that, he surmised, was that the Westside tends to have more longtime residents than other parts of town; thus, they are more familiar with their neighborhoods as well as the district and its schools.
       He understands that despite staff efforts, “there ultimately will be people who will say they don't like the recommendation,” Poore said. “But at least they will have a better understanding of what the district is facing.”

Westside Pioneer article