Board Acts On Realignment Plans For Pueblo City Schools

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The Board of Education for Pueblo City Schools took action Thursday night on several components of the proposed School Realignment Project.

Here is the release that they shared with KKTV:

Faced with unprecedented budget reductions by the State of Colorado and declining enrollment, the Board charged a community group of students, parents and staff in July with the task of identifying schools for either school closures, boundary changes and/or repurposing of buildings. The committee recommendations were presented to the Board in October. In November the Board charged a smaller committee to also address the middle school level, where significant numbers of students struggle academically and often leave the district. The Middle School Realignment Plan was submitted in November.

Significant public input was collected via a district website where the community submitted suggestions for the Board’s consideration as well as two well attended public hearings.

“Making the decision to close schools is the most difficult decision we’ve ever made as a Board, and is probably the most difficult decision any Board ever has to make,” said Board President Phyllis Sanchez. “This issue has been facing the district for years, and the time has come when something had to be done or the whole district would suffer.”

The actions the Board took tonight are:

• Close Spann Elementary School, August 2012

• Close Hellbeck Elementary School, August 2012

• Close Somerlid Elementary building, August 2012
Somerlid students and staff move to Freed Middle School

• Close Freed Middle School, August 2013

• Carlile Elementary to remain open at this time

• Beulah Heights to remain open at this time

• Retain sixth grades students beginning August 2012 at Irving, Morton, Columbian, Minnequa, Heritage, Baca, Haaff, Sunset Park and Highland Park Elementary Schools

• Repurpose Bessemer Academy to create a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) magnet school

• Risley seventh and eighth grade students will not relocate to East High School

• The Board directed the superintendent to work with staff to provide additional information and options for Risley, Pitts, Roncalli and Heaton and expanded capacity for Bradford Elementary as a possible Pre-K to first grade school

Declining enrollment and excess capacity have been issues that PCS has faced for a number of years. PCS has experienced fairly steady enrollment declines from within its boundaries over time because there are fewer school-age children in the city than in the past when many PCS schools were built.

PCS serves a population that stays in their homes years after their children have graduated and is landlocked, as well. PCS is not alone in this issue. There are 178 school districts in Colorado, and more than 100 of them are experiencing declining enrollment. This has been exacerbated over the last few years by ever decreasing support from the state. PCS is one of only two major school districts in Colorado that does not have additional revenues via a mill levy override.

"We are literally wards of the state,” noted PCS superintendent Dr. Maggie Lopez. “Aside from grant funding we have only one source of revenue with which to educate nearly 18,000 students.”

The schools identified for closure have outstanding teachers, students, and parents who are deeply committed to educational excellence. This will not change; the students will continue to excel in their new schools, and staff, students, and parents from these schools will enhance and expand educational opportunities at their new schools.

Plans will be in place to help ease the transition for students, parents, and staff. Parents will play a large role in shaping what those ‘welcoming’ transition activities include for the receiving schools.

“What is best for our students has always been our primary consideration. The PCS community pulls together in challenging times, and I have every confidence that this will again be the case,” said Lopez. “We will work together to ensure a successful transition and a bright future for all students.”

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