School closures are back on the table in Colorado Springs School District 11.
Wasson High School, Mann Middle School and as many as four elementary schools could be shuttered under options presented Tuesday by a committee tasked with looking at the use of school buildings in the Pikes Peak region’s largest district. The committee’s full report will be posted Wednesday on the district’s website, www.d11.org (click the “Utilization Study” link).
The report, which targets Bates, Lincoln, Edison and Midland elementary schools for possible closure, comes four years after a similar utilization study led to massive closures and consolidations.
At the time, district officials warned that if enrollment continued to decline and budgets were slim, more closures were likely.
Officials emphasized Tuesday that the new report has options on closures and realignments, and no decisions have been made. Public meetings are planned for December; Superintendent Nicholas Gledich said he expects to make recommendations to the board in January.
“We have a considerable amount of work to do,” he said.
Wasson narrowly escaped closure in 2009, when it was given a five-year reprieve and a chance to remake itself. But enrollment continued to languish. An option to closing the high school that was presented at a special board meeting Tuesday was to move the Galileo School of Math and Science to Wasson, creating a sixth- through 12th-grade campus. Galileo opened in fall 2008 in the former East Middle School, which had been shuttered for a year.
Combining the schools would offer the best way to use resources, said Jeanice Swift, assistant superintendent of instruction, curriculum and student services. Such a merger would require some modifications to Wasson and there would be moving costs.
“Galileo and Wasson have long wanted to align their programming,” she said. “Wasson has everything, the question is how best to utilize it.”
Board members seemed receptive.
“It’s a good idea to keep Wasson alive,” said board member Al Loma.
A combined campus of about 1,000 students wouldn’t fill Wasson, although there would be the potential to add programs.
The committee also suggested a couple of options for Mann, Bates, Lincoln and Edison — all in the central part of the district.
Bates Elementary School in particular has seen decreased enrollment as the neighborhoods near the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs change, Swift said.
One proposal is to close Bates and change the boundaries for the other elementary schools. Mann also could be closed under that scenario.
Another option is to close Bates, Lincoln and Edison, and create a K-2 campus at Stratton Elementary and a 3-5 campus at Mann. The middle school students would move to North, Russell and Galileo.
The committee also revisited the west side schools, which were hard-hit in the 2009 closures. A new option is to close Midland Elementary and relocate those students to West Elementary. That would require converting all of West, now an elementary and a middle school, to elementary grades and moving middle school students to Holmes.
That idea would require an addition at Holmes.
The committee spent weeks collecting and examining data, and presented a dozen ideas in the two-hour meeting.
Gledich met before Thanksgiving with the principals of the schools named in the report.
Early this year, the District Accountability Committee discussed the possibility of closing schools in the 2013-14 school year as a budget-cutting measure.
Closing a high school could save about $3 million, a middle school closure saves about $1 million and each elementary school closed saves about $400,000.
During the 2009 closures, seven buildings were shuttered, one was traded to the city and two others were repurposed by the district. Since then, two properties have been sold, two are used by charter schools and another houses adult and alternative education programs.
Colorado Springs School District 11 will hold public meetings on the options to re-shape the district. Meetings with students and district employee groups also are planned. Here are the public meetings, all 6-8 p.m.:
• Dec. 5, Doherty High School, 4515 Barnes Road
• Dec. 10, Palmer High School, 301 N. Nevada Ave.
• Dec. 13, Tesla Educational Opportunity Center, 2560 International Circle
• Dec. 17, Mitchell High School, 1205 Potter Drive
• Dec. 18, Coronado High School, 1590 W. Fillmore St.
• Dec. 19, Wasson High School, 2115 Afton Way
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