D-11 plans transition for students displaced by closures

February 9, 2013
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Plans are in motion to ease the transition for students who attend three Colorado Springs School District 11 schools that will close in May.

The school board voted last week to shutter Wasson High School and Bates and Lincoln elementary schools.

Roughly 1,100 students will head to different schools in the fall — about 200 seniors at Wasson will be the school’s last graduating class.

High school students will be spread among Coronado, Doherty, Mitchell and Palmer high schools. Students in kindergarten through fourth grade now at Bates and Lincoln are expected to attend Jackson, Edison, Audubon or Fremont elementary schools.

The district is developing plans to welcome displaced students to different schools, move programs, change boundaries, and set up new bus routes. Some things, such as new school boundaries, require the approval of the school board.

“Everyone I have talked to is working rapidly,” said D-11 Spokeswoman Devra Ashby, and that goes for district-level administrators as well as staff at all impacted schools.

Jackson staff members have formed a Welcome Committee to start planning. The parent-teacher group is working on a pre-carnival to its annual event so Lincoln and Bates students can enjoy the spring carnival before everyone arrives.

A number of ideas are aimed at helping incoming ninth-graders and Wasson students as they shift to different schools.

“Some of these plans we’ve had in place,” Ashby said. “We’ve always had eighth-grade open houses” so that students entering high school can check out programs at the district’s high schools.

This year, representatives of the four remaining high schools will attend the one planned at Wasson High School, as well as host sessions at their own schools. Most dates are set for March. Parents can call the school their student is interested in to learn specifics, Ashby said.

An early day of school for all incoming high school freshmen remains on the calendar. Last year was the first time the concept was put in place at all high schools.

“Last year we had huge success with that,” Ashby said.

Details of the transitions are being discussed and information will be shared as decisions are made.

“There’s not a whole lot we can get done in two days,” Ashby said, referring to the time since the board voted to close schools.

Athletic directors and principals have met and are working on ways to best transition students.

“Our principals understand the sensitivity of the situation,” Ashby said. “We are welcoming all students.”

Superintendent Nicholas Gledich said at board meetings that the district might track academic achievements of current Wasson juniors so the top graduates may be recognized regardless of where they finish. Awarding Wasson diplomas after the school is closed is also being discussed.

Coronado, Doherty, Mitchell and Palmer may reserve student government seats for incoming Wasson students.

Families still have a lot of unanswered questions. The school board is expected to vote on boundary changes at the end of the month, and decisions on such things as bus routes will come after boundaries are set.

Proposed elementary and high school boundaries were posted Friday with the agenda for Wednesday’s board meeting and can be viewed online at w3.d11.org/novus/meetingssp.aspx. Under meeting type, select “regular meeting” and then open the agenda for Feb. 13. The boundary documents begin on page 43 of the agenda. The proposed boundaries will be discussed Wednesday, but no vote will be taken.

The board is expected to vote on the policy for choice students on Wednesday.

“The first year will be our most unpredictable year as to where kids land,” said John Keane, K-12 Schools executive director in D-11.

State law governing choice means it’s possible that altering boundaries won’t mean much change for students, since they can continue to attend their selected schools, he said.

A new link on the D-11 website homepage will have continually updated information about boundary changes and school choice, Ashby said.

The district also is planning the move of alternative education programs from Irving Educational Center and other sites into Wasson. Most of the work will be done in the summer, Ashby said. The programs will remain intact at the new location. A naming committee will work on a new name, according to D-11 policy.

“It has to go to the board for final approval,” she said.

Key dates

Wednesday: Proposed boundary maps will be presented the District 11 board for discussion; no vote will be taken. The board will vote on changes to choice policy that allows students to attend a school other than their neighborhood school. Meeting begins 6:30 p.m., administration building, 1115 N. El Paso St. Broadcast live on Comcast channel 16.

Feb. 19: Proposed boundaries public meeting. Elementary boundaries to be discussed 5:30-6:30 p.m., high school boundary discussion, 6:45-7:45 p.m., Tesla Educational Opportunity Center, 2560 International Circle.

Feb. 27: D-11 board to vote on boundary changes at regular meeting, 6:30 p.m. administration building, 1115 N. El Paso St. Broadcast live on Comcast channel 16.

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

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