New D-11 school for gifted students getting unjumbled inside Pike building

       A collection of books, furniture and other educational materials was piled high this week in the gymnasium of the former Pike Elementary, 2510 N. Chestnut St. The apparent jumble could have been called symbolic of the situation facing the building's newest tenant - the Academy for Advanced & Creative Learning (AACL) - before the District 11 Board of Education meeting June 9.

Inside the Pike building's gym, Scott Marcy and Nikki Myers of the Advanced & Creative Learning (AACL) charter school sort through a couple of the boxes among the stacked-up supplies Marcy had bought up for AACL after the Renaissance Academy closed in 2008. The AACL has started moving into Pike, which it will call home for its first year of operation starting in August.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The board unjumbled things by unanimously approving the use of part of the former Jefferson school building by the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony Association (CSYSA) in the 2010-11 school year.
       The vote had been anticipated for several months but the symphony could not move out of its current location inside Pike until the board officially voted on Jefferson… which at least partly explains why all the AACL school supplies were in that pile in the Pike gym.
       Not that AACL - which will be the only K-8 gifted-student charter school in District 11 when it opens in August - had been stymied completely. A “gradual” move had been under way in recent weeks, including carpet-cleaning and the placement of some materials, “but we are trying to work around the symphony's schedule,” said Academy Director (Principal) Nikki Myers before the school board vote.
       The board had approved resolutions last winter chartering the AACL and agreeing to let it use Pike. The CSYSA, which has an ongoing music-enrichment agreement with D-11, had been allowed to use most of the building during the just-ended 2009-10 school year.
       With the board's Jefferson approval, Myers expects that CSYSA will be able to complete its move there by the end of June. And pile or no pile, AACL remains on course for opening this August with more than 150 students from around the region.
       Actually, the pile symbolizes something else - the determination that led to the formation of AACL. The supplies were what remained of the former Renaissance Academy, a private school that had taught gifted education in D-11 for 15 years until it closed its doors in September 2008. Scott Marcy, the academy board's volunteer president who had been involved with Renaissance, bought the supplies, lock, stock and barrel, to help his new school get going. “There certainly were some materials that would be valuable and useful to us,” he said. “There were lots of good office supplies, and we got them really cheap. The six computers [nearly new iMacs, plus a server] alone were worth what I paid for everything.”
       Another grouping of supplies, mostly furniture, will also be available from surpluses that District 11 has from schools it closed after the 2008-09 school year. (Jefferson was among them, as was Pike.)
       Although AACL is intended for gifted students, and is hiring instructors who are experienced in that way, there is no such criteria for admission. The school will be tuition-free, with no attendance area, and, if there is room at any of the K-8 grade levels, students will be accepted.
       During the school's first year, the Pike space will be shared with the D-11 Records Department, which has been using former classrooms in the south end of the building since last summer. The plan is for the entire building to become available to AACL in 2011-12.

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