Westside closures not opposed at Coronado D-11 confab

       The future of District 11's centrally located schools dominated citizen concerns at the utilization meeting Dec. 18 in the Coronado High auditorium.
       By contrast, only a few questions arose about four “considerations” (suggestions for closures or changes in boundaries or building uses) that would directly affect the Westside.
       The meeting was the fifth of six by D-11 staffers at different schools around the district this month, seeking feedback to a total of 12 district-proposed considerations. D-11 Superintendent Nick Gledich said at the Coronado meeting that he will be reviewing the citizen comments and “I hope to make a recommendation” to the Board of Education at its Jan. 9 work session.
       As part of the presentations that started off the meeting, district representatives showed graphs illustrating that the student numbers within District 11 are shrinking, mainly because of an aging population. This is reflected in several schools that have far fewer students than they were built for.
       Also, the district's finances have taken a hit as a result of reduced money from the state. Because closing schools saves money, some of the considerations look at shuttering one or more and then relocating students - though retaining programs - into schools that have extra room.
       The Coronado meeting was attended by close to 50 people. Judging by self-introductions when speakers came to the microphone, most were parents and/or district employees.
       The bulk of their statements/questions reacted to considerations suggesting closures of Bates Elemen-tary, Mann or Galileo middle schools and/or Wasson High in the central/east parts of the district.
       According to D-11 public information officer Devra Ashby, similar concerns about the central schools had also been heard at the four previous meetings.
       One speaker, observing that among the considerations are possible bond-issue construction projects, even warned the D-11 representatives that if school closures occurred, “you're going to get shellacked at the polls.”
       Another, who said he was the father of an eighth-grader, suggested that any district decision not be implemented until the 2014-15 school year because parents are already making school-choice decisions for 2013-14. Thus, waiting a year would give parents time to sort through the changes and plan ahead better.
       Gledich and his staff did not argue points with speakers, but answered questions for which they had answers and otherwise noted the questions and encouraged people to submit their ideas in writing on forms that were provided at the meeting. One speaker proudly announced that her plan would be “Consideration 13.”
       The sixth and last utilization meeting was scheduled at Wasson Dec. 19.
       On the Westside, Consideration #6 suggests closing Midland Elementary (students to be absorbed by West Elementary) and West Middle School (students to be absorbed by Holmes Middle). No one spoke in direct opposition to this plan, although a few questions were raised. A couple of speakers asked about weakening the district's southwest perimeter (where Midland is now), which is next to Cheyenne District 12, and another expressed certainty that even an addition to “already-crowded” Holmes (suggested as part of Consideration #6) would not be enough to absorb the influx from West Middle.
       Coronado would gain enrollment with the implementation of Considerations #2 or #3 (in which the school's current reach east of the interstate would be enlarged as a result of eliminating or shrinking Wasson), but would lose students with Consideration #1 (which would limit Coronado's enrollment to west of I-25).
       Asked about these possibilities afterward, Principal David Engstrom noted that such maps are still preliminary but pointed out that even an increase of 400 could be absorbed, as that would put Coronado enrollment back to where it was close to a decade ago.
       Overall, he said, he's “real impressed with what the district is doing, and no matter what comes comes our way, I have great confidence that our school's admistration team and teachers can make any changes that are needed.”

Westside Pioneer article