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Jan 24, 2013 1:24 AM by Jacqui Heinrich, jheinrich@koaa.com

Board of Education hears D-11 closure recommendations

Critical decisions about the future of several District 11 schools are now in the hands of the Board of Education.

Wednesday night parents, students, teachers, and staff gathered at the School Administration Building for the last chance to openly voice concerns over D-11's cost-cutting proposals: a plan to close Wasson High School and Lincoln and Bates Elementary Schools.

At previous meetings, several community members came forward with one message: don't close Wasson High. At Wednesday's meeting talk was dominated by a different crowd: people who attend alternative programs like the ones at Bijou and Tesla. If Wasson does close, those alternative programs-- now set up in small shops across the district-- will be integrated into one large program under a single roof at Wasson.

Though school administrators say the proposal makes sense financially, people who attend these alternative schools say it would be a death sentence for their ability to learn; they thrive in a small, one-on-one learning environment, something they say would be lost if they were pushed into a single program at Wasson. At least one member of the Board of Education agrees with those students; Director Bob Null said he would not vote to pass the proposal as it was submitted by the D-11 School Board, since it considers financial outcomes over possible impacts on student performance.

D-11 Superintendent Nicholas Gledich asked the Board to approve the recommendations as is; that plan calls to close Wasson High and Lincoln and Bates Elementary Schools, distribute those students into surrounding schools, and move alternative programs under one roof at Wasson. The last recommendation calls to redraw some school boundary lines. Administrators say that plan would save approximately $2.8 million dollars from the budget each year.

The Board of Education ultimately has the power to approve the plan as it stands currently or make changes to it. The futures of nearly 2,000 students will be determined when the Board votes on February 6th.

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