Community Voices Opinions On Proposed D-60 Changes

By: KKTV
By: KKTV

Around 200 parents, students and teachers showed up at South High School to voice their concerns or offer approval of the proposed changes at District 60.

Many spoke in front of the school board against the changes that would close some schools and restructure others.

There were concerns of overcrowded classrooms and the impact rearranging would have on students.

Many said they didn't see the benefits in the changes or how they would offer financial solutions to the district. Others question how the plan would be executed, asking for better communication and more details.

"There hasn't been much communication between school board members and students, or anyone for that matter," said East High School student Lange Simmons.

Simmons is concerned the board will make the decision without properly getting input from students, who he says in the end are the ones being affected. He doesn't understand how the district would restructure East High into a 7th-12th grade school.

"I think that if students were to be given more information, they would either be more accepting of these ideas or alternatives would come up," said Simmons.

"When you talk about going from PreK-12th grade all in one building, it's a huge deal," said Monica Moore.

Moore is the president of the booster club at Central High School. Moore's son also spoke on behalf of the school, asking the district to not transform it into a PreK-12th grade structure.

"When you talk about the difference between the high school students being around elementary students with all the raging hormones all over the place, not to mention the interaction that's going to take place. I would be a concerned parent to have my elementary school student go to a high school where it's intermixed," said Moore.

"Being able to mix all age groups together and being successful at it, I think will be a huge challenge and is a big concern," added Moore.

She is also concerned that this big change will take away from the tradition of Central High School. She also doesn't understand how they will execute the plan. She questions how they will separate the students, and make the building "elementary proof." She feels it will cost more to try to renovate the very old building Central is in, rather than make changes to a newer building.

"Do you want to forgo tradition to save a buck or two?" Moore asks.
Students from the four elementary schools proposed to be closed were there fighting for their school. Most held up signs saying "Save our school" or "We love our students."

Beulah Heights was just added to the list of possible closures with this new plan. Fifth grader Mariah Cain doesn't want to see it shut down.

"I was shocked and sad," Mariah said. She adds, "I've been going here for six years and someday I wanted my kids to go here too."

"I like the student council, there are nice teachers, all my friends are there, and I like the programs," said Mariah.

Some speakers even presented the school board with a banner that had letters from students begging to keep their school open.

"Its the most important thing to us and we really want to learn," said Somerlid third grader Aliyah.

"And if you close down our school, it's like tearing my heart apart," added Alissa, also a Somerlid third grader.

Community members spoke of the impact it would have on the community if some of these long-time schools shut down. And how difficult it would be to attract new families to the area if they didn't offer an elementary school nearby.

Some liked the idea of having a PreK-12th style school, but wanted to see how it would be executed before they support the decision.
Pueblo City Schools board members and administrators want the public's opinion about the proposed plans. Officials are looking at two realignment proposals. Their goal is to improve student achievement, increase enrollment numbers and cut costs.

Proposed Plans

The first proposal would close Hellbeck, Somerlid, Carlile and either Spann or Bradford elementary schools. The second proposal would replace closing Spann or Bradford with closing Beulah Heights.

The second plan also restructures many of the schools in order to offer more options for students and parents. It will be beneficial for middle school students as many of the schools would be created into academies offering advanced placements programs or a specialized focus.

You can view the proposed plans or place your comment on the district's website.

Check out our previous coverage for more information on the proposed changes:

--Previous Coverage--

Major changes could mean more choices for students in Pueblo City Schools. A proposed plan would make some huge structural changes in order to provide more choices, primarily for middle school students.

The path to education could offer more choices for Pueblo D-60 students, but the road getting there would require major changes. Changes the district feels could improve academic achievement.
Some high schools would be turned into PreK-12th grade schools. For example, Carlile Elementary would combine with Central High School, plus add middle school students.

Other changes include four elementary schools closing, nine elementary schools adding 6th graders, and four middle schools would be realigned; basically turning them into Academies with a specific focus.

“Ranging from Pre-advanced placement type course work at the middle school level, a more science and tech focus, and International Baccalaureate program at the middle school,” said Greg Sinn, D-60 Communications Director.

The district says they want to get away from cookie cutter education, so students have more options.

“By creating these focused choices for our students we think it's going to energize them, we think its going to excite them, and we think their outcome academically will be superior,” said Sinn.
The proposed changes already have some parents and students worried. At Carlile Elementary they are lining the streets asking to keep their school open.

The plan proposes to close Carlile, Spann, Somerlid, and Beulah Heights elementary schools. The new plan would spare Hellbeck and Bradford, both of which were originally targeted for closure.
The district says the closures may be necessary as the budget keeps tightening. They also feel they can better utilize the buildings in the declining-enrollment district.

The board won’t take action until early 2012, and it will take a few years to implement.

The entire plan can be viewed by visiting the district’s website at: www.pueblo60.k12.co.us.

You can also give your opinion at a public hearing set for December 7 at 6 p.m. at South High School.

Tuesday night the board also voted to remove any proposal to move certain fifth-graders to middle schools.

The middle school proposal was presented to the school board Tuesday night by the middle school realignment group, which is a subcommittee of the District Realignment Project.

They looked at middle schools programming, student achievement, choice, and facility efficiencies when coming up with their proposal. They created a number of different options to address the district’s declining enrollment numbers and declining achievement scores at the middle school level.

Here is a more detailed look at some of the major changes proposed:

Shift from PreK-5th grade to a PreK-6th grade model at many elementary schools.

Develop a 7th-12th grade middle-high school focus on the International Baccalaureate program.

Form an early childhood center in the East Side quadrant which will include preschool and kindergarten.

Create a PreK-12th grade academy.

Establish a 7th and 8th grade middle school academy that focuses on performing arts and advance placement.

Implement a PreK-12th grade academy focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math; also known as a STEM Academy.

Form a 6-12th grade alternative education academy.


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