Attendance, enrollment policies streamlined in District 11

February 10, 2010

Streamlined policies on attendance areas and choice enrollment and transfers in Colorado Springs School District 11 were unanimously approved Wednesday, but not without some board sniping on a long-lingering issue.

Board member Bob Null said he thought the revised policies were great but wanted to ensure that the administration would begin collecting information on why students choose various schools or leave the district.

“These are things we’ve talked about for more than two years, but we have done nothing,” he said. He tried to amend the motion to approve the choice policy by adding a requirement that a pilot survey be prepared by spring to gauge what families like and dislike about the district and particular schools.

The amendment failed on a 3-3 vote, with board members Tom Strand, LuAnn Long and Jan Tanner opposing. Board member Al Loma was absent.

Long reported that the communication committee was working on how families could be surveyed when they enroll children in school and was finalizing wording on questions. Communications director Elaine Naleski said she expected the survey to be finished by the end of the school year and available to use as students are enrolled for the fall.

But Null said he wanted to make sure that happened.

After the amendment failed, board member Charlie Bobbitt said the three who voted for the amendment could oppose the motion to adopt the policy and hold the whole thing up.

“I’m disheartened,” he said.

Chip Ecks, a former member of the citizen committee that suggested the district collect data on why students seek choice permits or leave the district, said he’d e-mailed board members to ensure the recommendation wasn’t forgotten. The recommendations were submitted to the board in February 2008.

“Our belief was that District 11 didn’t know why students left or came in,” Ecks said. “We thought if we knew that info could figure out what’s working right.”

He said he was satisfied that the issue was getting much needed attention.

The board also took up its discussion on proposed cuts to the 2010-11 budget, but board members initially balked at some guidelines suggested by the administration. After some back and forth over the budget process and the need to prioritize cuts so they can be reduced or increased after the state’s education finance act is approved in the spring, the board took a break and settled into a discussion about the pros and cons of various proposals for cuts.

The administration suggested some revisions from the proposals the board considered on Feb. 3, including reinstating 16 custodial positions that had been tagged for elimination.

The district expects to have to cut up to $17 million from the general fund budget because of anticipated state education budget cuts.

Another budget cutting work session is set for March 3 and the board is expected to vote on a preliminary budget on March 10.

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