EDITORíS DESK: This wasnít what we wished for
Good grief! We knew that District 11 was looking at some changes on the Westside, but did any of us expect the administration's final recommendation to the Board
of Education to be so massive? I'm still trying to take it all in, and I know there are huge enrollment and financial issues. But one point cannot be ignored. Four of our
neighborhood schools... gone. Last spring it was just Pike Elementary that was on the hook, and we all cheered the board for sensibly letting go of the trigger so as to
study the issues more deeply. We should be careful what we wish for. Now we stand to lose not just Pike, but Washington, Whittier and Buena Vista as well. Think
of all the kids who will have to attend larger schools outside their neighborhoods. Think of our neighborhoods without the smaller schools to help hold them together.
OK, I know. The school board could change a lot of this around. But in following the discussion at the meeting Feb. 4, I did not sense a groundswell in that direction.
A big reason is that the recommendations are majorly intertwined. For example, closing Buena Vista requires a new home for Montessori. It can be put at
Washington, but only if the kids there now are shuttled to this new K-8 program at West.
Board member Tom Strand's proposal for a new "crown jewel" Westside school sounds good. One facility in need is Midland Elementary (even if administrators recommend relocating its IB program that many Westsiders fought for).
I don't know what might be gained from talking to school board members about this, but they will be taking comments at meetings Feb. 11 and 18. Then Feb. 25 will be the actual vote. Look out!
On another story, I was surprised to find that the Fountain Creek restoration project - despite a tight time frame - was so close to being bid out and yet so uncertain of Division of Wildlife approval. A $3.6 million project ought to have better planning.