West goes back to 1 principal for each school
Shalah Sims, who had been the principal since 2015 of West Middle (grades 6-8) and Elementary (K-5), now heads the middle school only.
The district rearrangement simultaneously promoted Karen Newton, who had been an assistant principal (AP) dedicated to the middle school, to principal of West Elementary.
The two schools use different sides of what was originally built in 1924 as the West Junior High building, 924 W. Pikes Peak Ave. They share the gymnasium and playground. The elementary has a separate entrance at 1920 W. Pikes Peak Ave.
The leadership personnel changes were made in February, as a result of "some shifts in personnel" in the district, according to Devra Ashby, spokesperson for D-11. These included West Elementary's then-AP, Noel Wilson, resigning for personal reasons that month.
"West Ele-mentary School has been focusing on school performance and increasing its performance, so administration felt it was appropriate to dedicate a full-time leader to these efforts," Ashby said. The shift "is considered to be permanent," she added.
Originally in District 20, Sims has worked in Colorado Springs public schools since 2003. West is her first school as principal. Asked how it's working out - being assigned solely to the middle school since February - she said, "I'm no less busy, but I'm more focused."
Newton has been both a teacher and administrator in her 14 years of experience. She had been the West Middle School AP since 2013. Much of her previous background was with elementary schools. "I feel like I'm going back to my roots," she said.
The West Campus, as it's been called by school officials, was created in 2009 as part of a district-wide "consolidation" (the term that was used at that time), which closed three Westside schools (Pike, Washington and Whttier). Two others were relocated (Buena Vista and Bijou), and West Elementary was started from scratch.
During the first four years of the combined-campus arrangement, each West had its own principal (like now). Both those principals were reassigned in 2013, when D-11 embarked on West's one principal/two APs concept. It was part of a district-wide shuffle of principals, intended to "strengthen our school leadership," D-11 Superin-tendent Nick Gledich said at the time.
There has been talk since 2009 about the district combining the two Wests into one K-8 school, but neither the D-11 administration nor school board has ever formally proposed the idea.
In other school news:
- Terry Martinez, the West Elementary principal from 2009 to 2013 (and before that Washington from 2005 to 2009), retired after the 2016-17 school year. He had been the principal at D-11's Rogers Elementary since '13.
- The first day of D-11's 2017-18 school year will be Thursday, Aug. 17. People new to the Westside can get more information on the public schools by contacting D-11 at 520-000 or d11.org.
- The governing board for Mountain Song, a state-chartered K-7 Waldorf school at 2904 W. Kiowa St., voted in late June not to renew the contract of its principal, Raj Solanki, under whose tenure the school's enrollment has increased and financial status reportedly improved. A board reason was not given, and at the Westside Pioneer's press deadline a replacement had not been announced.
Westside Pioneer article