Feb 7, 2013 8:52 PM by Tony Spehar -

District 11 moving forward after vote to close schools

After Wednesday night's decision by the Colorado Springs School District 11 board to close three schools parents and the district are looking at options to move forward.

In a 6 to 1 vote the board approved a plan to close Wasson High School and Bates and Lincoln elementary schools. The closings mean more than a thousand students will be moved to new schools.

"This morning I looked online, I looked at the elementary school distributions and the territories," said Jim Markel, a grandfather of two students at Bates Elementary. "We'd just like to keep the two boys together going to the same school if possible."

Parents of District 11 students have voiced many concerns about issues that could arise from closing the three schools. Administration officials have received numerous calls from parents about possible problems.

"It's not only parents from these particular schools that were impacted last night, but also high schools, elementary schools," explained Devra Ashby with District 11. "Because of boundary proposals that might change in the near future."

Officials are studying how best to disperse over a thousand students from the three schools into other buildings. A big concern voiced by parents, especially Wasson High School parents, is possible overcrowding as the 918 Wasson students are moved into the four other District 11 high schools. Some of the other schools, such as Doherty High, already have overcrowding issues.

"A lot of the classroom size is not going to be impacted because what would happen to impact classroom size the board would have to vote to increase it by a student or what not," Ashby explained.

District officials are hopeful that the closings will benefit the district by saving around $2-million in costs and improving school utilization. One reason Wasson High was closed was because it currently has less than half the number of students enrolled that it should be serving. The district is planning on moving Wasson students carefully to help boost numbers in other schools to achieve better utilization rates.

"We're trying to get our high schools up to the optimum capacity of 85-percent," Ashby explained.

In the coming weeks the district will be studying the student population to make proposals about changing school boundaries, the school board could vote on proposed changes as soon as February 27.

The district has also extended their "choice" program which allows parents to apply to send their students to schools in neighboring boundaries in an effort to help families from the closed schools adjust to the changes.


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