The region’s only night program for high school students to recover credits toward a diploma likely will become a casualty of budget cuts in Colorado Springs School District 11.
The administration’s recommendation to close Springs Community Night School is one of many cost-savings measures that the seven-member D-11 Board of Education will start discussing next week, district spokeswoman Devra Ashby said Monday.
“It’s a difficult recommendation to make because we know the impact night school has had for our students,” she said. “But we have to look at all of the possible avenues because we know there’s going to be quite a bit they will have to cut from the budget next year.”
The board won’t finalize the 2019-20 budget until this spring, but a teacher in the program, which is housed at the Roy J. Wasson Academic Campus, said the 10 employees have been told they need to find new jobs after May.
“There was an expectation maybe they’d make targeted cuts, but we wouldn’t lose the entire program,” said the teacher, who asked not to be identified. “We were pretty shocked.”
The district’s largest enrollment drop of more than 1,000 students this school year, for an official head count of 26,395 students, and an anticipated loss of 700 students next school year means D-11 will need to trim $11 million from its budget, Ashby said.
Springs Community Night School is an alternative education program that helps students who are behind in credits because of low attendance, failing grades, dropping out, conflicting work schedules or other issues.
It has 183 students this school year, Ashby said, 63 of whom are full time. The others are part time and normally attend a traditional school by day and the night school, which is open from noon to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
But students have other options for credit recovery within the district, Ashby said, such as digital and online schooling.
“Due to a minimum impact of enrolled students and because there are other options, this is an item that is being recommended to the board,” she said.
The teacher said it won’t be easy to accommodate displaced students.
“We have a lot of students who come to us because this is their last chance and is the only outlet available, as the only night school in the area,” the teacher said.
Staff, parents or students were not consulted about the possible closure, according to the teacher.
“There was no warning — this is just an arbitrary budget cut. This is a confirmation that at the end of May we’re out of a job. It’s already happening.”
Ashby said no decisions on budget cuts are final until the Board of Education approves the recommendations.
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