EDITORíS DESK: Farewell, and then good-bye

       For the people close to District 11 schools - whether staff, students, volunteers or observers - it's all starting to hit home now. It was one thing when the schools targeted for closure were still running on all cylinders, zany day after zany day in the unpredictable world of elementary education. But now as things wind down and schools hold farewell parties, inviting alumni and hauling out scrapbooks for one last look, and the day itself (May 22) looms this very week, the whole end game feels very real.
       Already, Westside parents are making decisions about where they will send their kids next school year. That's going to be an interesting development in itself. Remember these numbers: 320 and 275. They are school officials' predicted enrollment numbers in 2009-10 for the new Westside Elementary (320) and the continuing West Middle School (275). The building's remodel this summer will be based mainly on such expectations. But in a transitional school setting that has grades K-8 but so far lacks school board direction to be K-8, and in a district where parents can choose to go to almost any school they like, who can say what those numbers will be, come August?
       What can be said is that the three farewell (and one hello) ceremonies so far have been conducted with sensitivity and style by principals Marlys Berg (Whittier), Manuel Ramsey (Pike), Terry Martinez (Washington/now Westside) and Clay Gomez (West). Two more farewells are coming up May 22 - at the Bijou School and Buena Vista Elementary. Not quite the same, because those schools will be continuing in some form elsewhere. But they still represent educational upheaval for the Westside. And a future that's hard to predict.

- K.J.