Westside schools preparing for new students

       Leading up to a District 11 Board of Education vote on boundaries Feb. 27, plans are already afoot to welcome displaced students from the three schools that will be closed.
       On the Westside, at Coronado High, an open house for Wasson High undergrads is planned March 12, and before that Coronado representatives will join counterparts from Doherty, Mitchell and Palmer for an informational day at Wasson March 7.
       Jackson Principal Sara Miller has met with principals from Audubon, Edison and Fremont elementaries, all of which will be receiving new students in the fall. A committee to plan their welcome at Jackson began forming this week, according to staffer Debbie Hankins.
       Coronado Principal David Engstrom, speaking to the board Feb. 13 on behalf of D-11's four remaining full-service high schools, said, “We want to assure the Wasson students that we will have a plan to welcome them to whatever school they will be attending.” For his own school, he said his staff has pledged to “make an extraordinary attempt to connect with every new student next year, and they will have opportunities for athletics, organizations and leadership.”
       The open house at Coronado will be Tuesday, March 12 from 6 to 8 p.m., at which interested Wasson students and their families can “meet staff and have all their questions answered,” Engstrom said.
       The elementary and high school boundary changes, taking effect in the fall, are needed because of the closures. The school board had voted Feb. 6 to close Wasson as well as Lincoln and Bates elementaries.
       The Wasson campus will be “repurposed” as a center for alternative programs. This will include the Bijou School (grades 9-12), which has been on the Westside for the last 12 years.
       Coronado, Doherty, Palmer and Mitchell will each get portions of the current Wasson attendance area in central/east Colorado Springs. Additionally, there will be some boundary give-and-take among Coronado, Doherty and Palmer on attendance areas in the northeast part of the district, which for many years have included two detached areas assigned to Coronado.
       As for Jackson, it appears certain from board discussion Feb. 13 that the school's new students will come only from Lincoln Elementary. Lincoln's attendance area is just east of I-25, adjoining Jackson's area just west of it, while the Bates area is farther east.
       Fremont Principal Lisa Biebuyck spoke to the board Feb. 13 on behalf of the receiving elementaries (hers, as well as Jackson, Audubon and Edison). “Our staffs are very eager and excited, garnering ideas on the best ways to welcome the new students and their families,” she said.
       From a functional standpoint, she added that consideration is also being given to preparation for new staff, training, space accommodations and transportation.

Westside Pioneer article