D-11 losing night school to budget cuts

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - District 11 will no longer be offering night school after this school year, the district has confirmed to 11 News.

The decision comes as Colorado Springs' largest school district prepares to slash its budget for the 2019-2020 calendar year. District officials are citing declining enrollment as the reason for the cuts.

In a letter to students attending Springs Community Night School, the district stated that current day-to-day operations would remain the same through the end of the 2018-2019 school year. The full text of that letter is below:

Dear Springs Community Night School Students and Parents,

We wanted to make you aware of a difficult decision being made due to School District 11 budget cuts for next school year (2019-2020). The District has experienced a declining enrollment over the past several years, impacting district-wide funding. As a result, Springs Community Night School will not be included in the school district’s budget starting July 2019. This decision does not impact the current day-to-day operations of Springs Community Night School for the rest of this school year. Students may continue to take classes and earn credits until the end of the 2018-2019 school year. Please review the following options you may have.

For part-time/dual students for the 2019-2020 school year:
• You still have options in the District for credit recovery at the Roy J. Wasson Academic Campus, Coronado, Doherty, Mitchell, or Palmer;
• You may pursue after school credit options at the Digital School on the Roy J. Wasson Academic Campus;
• The District is working to pursue other possible credit recovery options in the future. Please continue to work with your school site counselor on a plan that will work for you.

For full-time students for the 2019-2020 school year:
• Please work one-on-one with your counselor, Ms. Alexander, to determine your credit needs. It may be possible to accelerate your work and be eligible to graduate this school year. Ms. Alexander may also be able to identify an academic fit for you at the Roy J. Wasson Academic Campus, Coronado, Doherty, Mitchell, or Palmer.

Please know this was a very difficult decision to make since Springs Community Night School has had a strong history of providing after school credit options in a warm and caring environment. Your counseling staff will continue to provide individualized plans to help you stay on track and reach your academic goals for the future.

Night school has traditionally been offered by the district as a way to help students who are unable to attend traditional school hours for reasons out of their control, such as having to care for a sick parent. A spokesperson with D-11 told 11 News the district does offer other credit recovery methods.

D-11 has been steadily losing students over the last decade, according to a recent report by 11 News partner The Gazette. The state's annual enrollment count in October saw D-11s largest drop to date: the district lost 1,032 students between October 2017 and October 2018. The district is projected to lose another 700 students next school year.

The most recent enrollment numbers from the Colorado Department of Education show Academy School District 20 just 217 students away from overtaking D-11 as the Springs' largest district.

District officials say the declining student population can be blamed a confluence of several factors: an aging population within district boundaries, fewer babies being born, a lack of new home construction, more charter schools opening, and more educational choices for students. Colorado's Public Schools of Choice law allows students to enroll in schools outside their district; according to The Gazette's report, more than 9,000 D-11 students attended schools in other districts, compared to just 2,408 students choicing into D-11 from other districts.

Night school will not be the only casualty of the looming budget cuts, but the district is still making decisions on the plan. Employees have been told to brace themselves for possoble layoffs, The Gazette reports.