Gossage joins supporters in effort to keep Wasson open

KRISTINA IODICE Updated: January 30, 2013 at 12:00 am • Published: January 30, 2013

Wasson High School graduates, students and community supporters shared their hopes Tuesday for a thriving future in a last-ditch effort to save the school.

Baseball Hall of Famer Goose Gossage was among those applauding accomplishments by Wasson students, and he asked Colorado Springs School District 11 officials and board members to consider alternatives to closing the school.

“It would be a disaster to close this school,” said Gossage, a 1970 Wasson graduate. “All we can do is enhance this school by making it better.”

Wasson supporters offered ideas to boost the district’s fiscal health and keep Wasson open.

District administrators have recommended that Wasson, and Lincoln and Bates elementary schools, be closed at the end of this school year.

D-11 administrators repeatedly said during public meetings in December and January that the recommendations could change until the school board votes Feb. 6. Board members have asked for different approaches to school boundary changes than those presented at the Jan. 23 meeting.

The gathering Tuesday morning was aimed at giving the other side of Wasson’s story, organizers said.

“We need to reinvent ourselves,” said Fred Crofford, Wasson PTA president.

Closing Wasson is not the only way to save money, he said. D-11 can expect an additional $5 million from the state, according to a recently proposed budget, and having a single principal serve multiple elementary or middle schools would save additional money, Crofford said.

The district also should pursue grant funding: One magnet school grant could yield as much as $4 million a year in additional funds for Wasson, he said.

Moving some alternative programs into Wasson, which would expand resources for students and staff at the high school and those enrolled in programs, was part of a list of ideas from several teachers. Building a day care at Wasson that could help D-11 teen and adult students while offering credit for job training also was suggested.

District officials seem to see students as money, not as the future, Wasson student Eduardo Chavez said.

“If they step on us, they are crushing their future,” he said.

The principal should be given the five years he was promised, Chavez and others said.

A previous school board decided in 2009 to keep Wasson open and give it five years to remake itself and increase enrollment.

In handouts and in comments, district officials were blasted as discriminating against low socioeconomic, minority and at-risk students.

“That’s why we’re targeted,” Crofford said.

He acknowledged that time is running short, but more people are adding vocal support to keeping Wasson open.

“I don’t believe it’s too late,” said Mikki Andersen, Class of 1970. “It hasn’t happened yet.” Wasson is more than the data compiled by the district, she said, and kids taken out of the school will not thrive.

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SCHOOL  BOARD MEETING

A special school board meeting is planned for 6 p.m. Feb. 6. Proposals that include closing a high school and two elementary schools will be discussed and might be voted on.

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