D-11 consultants want public input on closure-related issues

       Three public meetings related to potential District 11 school closures are scheduled next week.
       One of them will be on the Westside, at the West Middle School auditorium, 1920 W. Pikes Peak Ave., Thursday, Oct. 23 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (The other two are at Mitchell High Oct. 20 and Palmer High Oct. 21, same times).
       The meetings in each case will be run by private consultants who have been contracted for what the district has called a “school utilization study,” according to Shirley Stevens, the District 11 administrator who is overseeing the study effort. “People are welcome to come to all three meetings or any one they're comfortable at.”
       The study is being developed in response to D-11 Board of Education members' sentiments last spring that they didn't have enough facts to help them make a decision when district staff proposed closing Pike and Longfellow elementaries.
       The meeting Oct. 23 will start with a presentation by the consultants, after which members of the public can speak. Later, citizens will be asked to relocate to a classroom and break up into small groups to talk with consultants and respond to a survey, Stevens said.
       District staff will attend the meeting, but will not be able to answer questions about school-closure issues, she noted. Staff is not scheduled to be “debriefed” about the consultants' findings until a Nov. 3 meeting, she pointed out.
       The school board is scheduled to hear the report at a work session Nov. 5, according to Mike Poore, a deputy superintendent for the district.
       The consultant hired by the district for the study is Lantz-Boggio Architects, which has partnered on the work with the firm of Western Demographics and with Colorado Springs education consultant John Kerr (a former District 11 staffer).
       The district did not direct the consultants to target any specific schools in the study, but to look at usage of district facilities and at all grade levels.
       The plan last spring, if Pike were to close, was to bus the school's 130 to 140 students to Bristol, Jackson or Howbert elementaries and refit the building for the Bijou School, an alternative high school now in aging facilities on Walnut Street.

Westside Pioneer article