Many are speaking out after a proposal to shut down three Colorado Springs schools.
District 11 is proposing closing the schools in a plan to realign the school district. The recommendation to the school board is to close Wasson High School, and both Bates and Lincoln elementary schools.
This comes after lots of discussion with district leaders and the public. But still nothing is decided yet.
Thursday night, there were some heated arguments as many in our community fight to keep the three schools open.
11 News was there for a very tense public hearing.
More than a dozen people made passionate pleas to keep the schools open.
Parents, students, and teachers spoke up in order to keep their schools open.
Some called the recommendations “disgusting” and “upsetting,” and say the decision was not made for the students.
Many we talked to felt they didn’t have a choice or voice in the matter.
Mostly Thursday night we heard from students and teachers fighting to keep Wasson High open.
"I've been at Wasson for three years, my brother graduated from Wasson, I want to stay there and graduate. I don't want to go to another school; I want to stay at my school,” said Wasson junior Shelby-Ann Sharpton.
Sharpton asks that Wasson stay open at least one more year so she can graduate at the school where she has developed some meaningful friendships.
“A lot of juniors agree with me, we want to stay at Wasson, we want to keep our school open because it’s a community we’ve grown fond of and it’s a family that’s become really important to our lives,” said Sharpton.
The recommendation was made to board members suggesting Wasson be turned into an early college and alternative education center. Students from all three schools would be moved into other schools.
"Teaching 900 at-risk students, I want what's best for them and what's best for them is not being shoved into an overcrowded high school of 2,000. They are gonna slip through the cracks, it's a given,” said Wasson teacher Theresa James.
Even a civil rights group is urging the district to give Wasson the five years it was promised to turn around.
“We see in Wasson a school that is entrenched in community, a neighborhood school. And as a neighborhood school, we want it to continue to be that,” said Rosemary Harris-Lytle with the NAACP.
She adds, “Neighborhood schools engage students and parents, and have the best chance of making sure that all students, all students, can achieve.”
The NAACP says the possible closure is concerning to them, knowing that innovative schools need five to seven years to turn around.
“We believe it deserves the chance to do so,” said Harris-Lytle.
Many also spoke out about the plan to move all the alternative education programs into one building.
“We know diversity if the hallmark of educational achievement and housing all the alternative programs in one school doesn’t seem to be a wise plan. The wisest plan is a neighborhood school in its full diversity,” added Harris-Lytle.
Parents we talked to at Wasson say they have mixed feelings.
“I think it’s a shame, my son is a senior here, and this school help him a lot,” said a parent.
“It would really affect me, we actually live closer to Doherty,” said another parent.
District leaders say the big reason they have to make these changes is declining enrollment.
Students and teachers we talk to say that most of the declining enrollment is district-wide, not just as Wasson. And that the recent declining numbers are because of the idea of it closing.
“Is the declining enrollment because of the school or the constant rumor of the school closing, and is that a district issue or a school issue?” asks James.
Right now no final decision has been made.
And before board members vote, they say there is still time for discussion.
The final vote won’t happen until February. Any changes would likely go into effect for the 2013-2014 school year.
There will be three more public hearings where you can let the district know what you think about the proposals.
Here is a list of the locations and times for those meetings:
January 14 3-5 p.m.
Administration Building, Board Room
1115 N. El Paso St.
January 15, 6-8 p.m.
Mitchell High School
1205 Potter Drive
January 16, 6-8 p.m.
Wasson High School
2115 Afton Way
11 News will bring you all the latest developments from those meetings.
There will also be chances to speak to the entire school board directly: when they hold a discussion in January and during the meeting in February when they could actually cast a vote.
For more information about the proposed changes, visit:
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