Radical changes seen for Westside schools
District-wide proposals include relocating students from Pike, Buena Vista, Whittier, Washington; revamping West into K-8

       The District 11 Board of Education discussed the highlights of a sweeping staff recommendation to revamp the district's school building usages at a 2 ˝-hour work session Feb. 4, and Wednesday, Feb. 11 citizens will get an opportunity to offer their two cents worth.
       If there are enough people who want to address the board, President Tami Hasling said there could be a “carry-over” of the public hearing to Feb. 18.
       The board will meet at the Tesla Educational Opportunity Center, 2560 International, starting at 6:30 p.m.
       No vote was taken Feb. 4, but the board is slated to approve action of some kind at its Feb. 25 meeting on changes that could have a particularly radical effect on the Westside.
       If D-11 staff recommendations are followed, the following changes would be implemented as early as August:
  • Move Buena Vista, Washington and Whittier elementaries to West site as independent programs from middle school program.
  • Open Montessori at Washington site.
  • Change boundaries for West and Holmes middle schools.
  • Move Bijou Alternative high school to the Pike site.
  • Redistribute Pike Elementary students to Jackson and Bristol.
  • Redistribute Ivywild students, possibly to Midland.
  • Begin planning change of West to a K-8 (kindergarten through eighth grade) program with an emphasis on the SAIL program. (Move the SAIL program at Stratton Elementary to West once the K-8 plan has been approved and is implemented.)
           “The Westside is heavily impacted by this,” commented one board member, Tom Strand. Rather than reusing all the Westside's old public school buildings, he proposed a new facility, “some kind of renaissance site,” maybe at West. “I'd like to see it as a jewel of the district,” he elaborated, “not a red-headed stepchild because it's older.”
           Mike Poore, D-11 deputy superintendent, said money for a project like that might be available from the federal stimulus package (being debated now in Congress) that would be expected to provide as much as $8 million for the district.
           The above recommendations were extracted from the most recent draft (#17) of the administration's “Utilization Study and Ten-Year Implementation Plan,” which is a follow-up to a consultant report to the district last fall.
           Other inputs to the plan have come from meetings with school staff people in December and citizens at six community meetings in January. Other meetings, at potentially “impacted” schools, will start occurring this month, Poore told the board. A schedule of those dates was not yet released, although a meeting at Washington Elementary had been set for Feb. 5 at 3 p.m.
           At the Feb. 4 work session, only one of the seven board members (Charles Bobbitt) expressed outright skepticism of the recommendations. Another, Bob Null, indicated doubts about some aspects of the plan. Hasling cut short the debate, saying it would be better for members to “do your homework” (read the study in detail) and be ready for public inputs and further board discussion Feb. 11.
           Other Westside-related recommendations in the plan (beyond August '09) include:
  • Rebuild Midland as a three round (three classes in each grade) school using grant funds.
  • Build an addition to Howbert to make it a three-round school.
  • Build an addition to Bristol to make it a three-round school.
  • Move the IB program from Midland to North to align with Palmer and create a natural flow from elementary to middle to high.
  • Develop and align the performing and fine arts strand for the Westside at Bristol, Holmes, and Coronado.
  • Replace the portables at Jackson with a four-classroom addition for the students coming from Pike.
           The D-11 study draft and other reutilization information are posted on the district website: www.d11.org.
           For more information, call 520-2005.

    Westside Pioneer article