Parents don't want to lose neighborhood schools

KRISTINA IODICE Updated: November 28, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: November 28, 2012

As another round of possible school closures and other changes begins in Colorado Springs School District 11, parents came to the defense of their neighborhood schools.

Bates, Lincoln, Edison and Midland elementary schools were targeted for possible closure under options presented Tuesday by a committee tasked with looking at the use of school buildings in the Pikes Peak region’s largest district.

Wasson High School and Mann Middle School were also listed for possible closure among a dozen proposals.

The report comes four years after a similar utilization study led to massive closures and consolidations in D-11. Since then, officials warned that if enrollment continued to decline and budgets were slim, more closures were likely.

Parents reached Wednesday as they dropped off or picked up their kids at some of the targeted schools said they didn’t want to lose their school, although most hadn’t heard about the new district proposals.

Edison Elementary School parent Carrie Johnson said she the proposal to send kindergarten through second-grade students from Edison to what is now Stratton Elementary, and kids in grades 3-5 to what is now Mann Middle School would be hard on families with multiple students.

According to district documents, Edison has room for 313 students, but current enrollment is at 184. Enrollment at the school has not fluctuated as much as at other nearby elementaries.

“Any school closure would be a struggle for parents,” Johnson said. “How do you say its underused?”

Bates Elementary has seen a nearly 26 percent drop in enrollment over the past 10 years, according to D-11 data. According to the recent report, it is about 59 percent utilized.

“The school has shrunk, but it makes for a better learning environment,” said parent Monica Morrel.

Her son is the third generation in the family to attend the school, and they drive from Stetson Hills. She praised the work of teachers at the school.

The idea of losing the school is heartbreaking, she said.

Lincoln’s enrollment has dropped by nearly 48 percent over the past 10 years. Still, this year’s enrollment is about 180 in a school built for 300.

“It’s not a surprise,” said Ruth Lowman, whose three grandkids attend Lincoln. “Lincoln has had problems, but the kids like it here.”

She doesn’t want the kids to lose their school, but understands that the D-11 has to somehow deal with funding problems and other challenges.

“If they’re hurting, I don’t think what I think is going to make a difference,” she said.

If the idea to close Bates, Edison and Lincoln moves forward, middle schoolers at Mann would end up attending to North, Russell and Galileo.

“Don’t close it,” said Mann parent Susan Hull. Her daughter is a fourth-grader at Edison, and her son, in seventh-grade, has great teachers and is doing well at Mann, she said.

“He doesn’t want to lose those friends,” Hull said.

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.

Parents said they understand that neighborhoods have changed. The homes around Bates Elementary attracts a lot of college students who attend the growing University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

In the core of the district, there just aren’t enough kids who live near or choose to attend neighborhoods schools built decades ago.

They just wish there were other ways to keep the schools open as they are — for parents, the schools are being used more than enough.

Contact Kristina Iodice: 636-0162 Twitter @GazetteKristina Facebook Kristina Iodice

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