Feb 7, 2013 12:48 AM by Jacqui Heinrich,

Board of Education votes to close three D-11 schools

Colorado Springs School District 11 will close or re-purpose Wasson High School and Bates and Lincoln Elementary Schools, saving the district more than two million dollars per year.

That decision was handed down after the Board of Education voted on D-11's recommendations Wednesday night, but it's not a decision that came without plenty of controversy as people rallied for weeks to save their schools.

Several students, staff, and parents spoke out vying to keep their schools open, but it wasn't enough to sway the Board's decision; all members voted 'yes' on the action item, with the exception of Director Bob Null.

Perhaps the most well-known among those speakers: Wasson alum and baseball hall-of-famer Goose Gossage, who really got into it with the Board. Gossage exceeded his time three minute time limit and kept talking even after the Board turned off his microphone. Gossage and some others even called for the immediate resignation of some board members whom Gossage says were ignoring their duties to serve the students, instead serving the agenda of D-11 Superintendent Dr. Nicholas Gledich.

In the end each Board member spoke on how difficult a decision it was to make-- Rev. Al Loma was brought to tears over it-- but they said they needed to base their decisions on the best possible future for the district.

After the vote came in several students walked out, shouting that they'd be ditching the district for D-49 in light of the decision; there were, as predicted, a lot of tears from unhappy students, parents, and staff.

The few who favored the decision-- representatives from Pike's Peak Community College and UCCS-- said the plan to re-purpose Wasson into an alternative school with early college programs will give the kids a greater opportunity for future success by allowing them to work for college credit while still in high school. Current Wasson High School students will have the option to stay at their high school by enrolling in those alternative programs.

A crisis management team will be present at Wasson on Thursday to deal with the fallout expected from the Board's decision. At the meeting Wednesday night several people were upset that the decision was made to close the schools without figuring out how the plan will be implemented; where students and teachers will go, what school boundaries will be redrawn, and questions of transportation have yet to be hashed out.



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