COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - It was a tough week for some Colorado Springs students as they learned District 11 leaders want to close their schools.
D-11 recommended that Wasson High School and Lincoln and Bates elementary schools be shuttered because of low enrollment and underutilization of the buildings.
"For us juniors at my school, we had a very emotional meeting with our principal and vice-principal," said Shelby-Ann Sharpton, a Wasson junior. "Everybody was crying and wanting to know why us. Why. We should be able to graduate from our high school."
D-11 leaders said enrollment in the district has declined by 4,500 students in the last decade, and school consolidation is the best option to save money. The district is facing a $2 million shortfall for the 2013-2014 school year, according to Glenn Gustafson, D-11's Chief Financial Officer.
D-11 said enrollment at Wasson has continued to fall over the years, and there's not enough students to provide a full offering of classes. If the school closed, students would be integrated into Coronado, Doherty, Mitchell and Palmer.
The district is recommending using the Wasson building to house all of the D-11 alternative schools, as well as an early college and career program.
If Bates and Lincoln elementary schools closed, those students would attend Jackson, Edison, Audubon and Fremont.
"The recommendations that we came up with were ideas we thought would do the least harm and also bring a little more innovation, and use our facilities the way we were expected to," said Devra Ashby, spokesperson for D-11.
On Thursday, the district held a public meeting about the proposals. Teachers, students and parents spoke up.
"Research shows that an optimal high school size is 600 to 900 students," said one Wasson teacher during public comment. "We're well within those numbers."
"Wasson is a great school," said sophomore, Jarod Hauner. "It's a smaller environment for kids. It's a place where you can have one-on-one communication with teachers."
The recommendations made by the district are expected to save about $2.5 million per year, although the cost to close the schools and move students would require a one-time cost of about $1.5 million.
The D-11 school board will make a final decision on the school closures on February 6th.
Three more public meetings are planned on the recommendations.
January 14, 2013, 3-5 p.m. Administration Building Board Room, 1115 N. El Paso Street
January 15, 2013, 6-8 p.m. Mitchell High School, 1205 Potter Drive
January 16, 2013, 6-8 p.m. Wasson High School, 2115 Afton Way