Students at Chamberlin Academy in Harrison School District 2 were sent home with letters Friday, informing parents that the school would be closings its doors in just a few months.
Harrison School District cites declining enrollment and the changing demographics of the community as the reason for the change. Jennifer Sprague, spokesperson for D-2 tells 11 News there are a total of 135 kids at the school and of that, only 83 students live in the Chamberlin community. She says there just aren't enough students in that area of town to keep the school open and in a financially responsible position for the Harrison taxpayers.
Chamberlin was touted as the first year-round elementary school in Colorado Springs and many parents felt their students were really thriving there with the small classes and year-round attention.
Andrew Reefer has four kids at Chamberlin Academy and says they not only love at that school, but their grades are the best they've ever been.
Sprague says the ‘year-round school’ model as an attempt to bring in enrollment because it had been declining for years, and the program just didn’t draw the numbers that it needed to.
Facing huge budget pitfalls, Harrison has been forced to cut $13.5 million in three years, including about $4.5 million this year. Closing Chamberlin will save the district over $600,000.
All of the students at Chamberlin will now be reassigned to Stratton Meadows Elementary School, less than a half-mile away. Stratton Meadows has a regular school-year schedule, so the year-round option will no longer be available.
D-2 officials say they understand the emotional attachment to the school, which opened in 1958, but unfortunately, it's a decision that had to be made. The building will not be vacant though. It houses the district print shop and the technology department for the district.
District 2 officials say they believe that Stratton Meadows will give students a fuller, more well-rounded education than Chamberlin could provide as such a small learning community. Sprague says a larger school will more programs and opportunities, will get students better prepared for graduation and college.
“Our goal is making sure students have the best education possible,” says Sprague.
Meanwhile, the Reefers say they're worried about their children. This is the second school change for their kids in the last few years; they switched to Chamberlin after Ivywild Elementary closed. The Reefers also live close enough to walk to Chamberlin and that won't be possible at Stratton Meadows. After flourishing at Chamberlin, Andrew Reefer says he's just not sure where his kids will end up next.
Harrison Adult and Family Education School, a program that used to be housed at Chamberlin, has been shut down completely.
All of the staff positions at Chamberlin will all be reassigned to Stratton Meadows.
Although it's normally a year-round elementary, Chamberlin will close its doors in June.
The district is currently deciding on bus services for students coming from Chamberlin. D-2 officials say their goal is to make this transition as seamless as possible for parents.