EDITORíS DESK: Utilization... no, youtilization

       Could this be a case of here-we go-again?
       I'm talking about District 11's latest quest to slay the utilization dragon.
       We went through this wringer in 2008-09, and it ended with three Westside schools closed. Don't get me wrong - other than the closed-schools part, the upside of D-11's utilization effort at that time can't be denied. West Elementary has emerged to establish its own identity (Go, Wolves!), the Academy ACL charter school is thriving where Pike used to be, and district ledgers show significant savings from running fewer schools that aren't filled up or that are just too small by modern standards.
       But now District 11 is back for more. Or so it seems with Consideration 6, which would shutter Midland Elementary and West Middle School so that West Elementary can grow into the entire West building and Holmes can become a super-middle school for the district west of I-25. True, it's only 1 of 12 "considerations" for public perusal, but reading the positive lines about it in the district committee's grandly titled "Optimization of Utilization" document and also trying to read between those lines, I'd say #6 is one of the stronger candidates for being chosen.
       I've been assured, I should probably state, that this utilization go-round will be more sensitive to public concerns than last time. Well, we can only hope, but if a school scenario isn't cost-effective - especially in this economic climate, when D-11 has been slashing its budget for years - I doubt that any amount of teeth-gnashing will matter much. Because really, what else can parents and neighbors express except perhaps a gut feeling that smaller schools are good? The district has professionals who study this stuff, and they'll overwhelm emotions with studies and statistics every time. Still, we're free to try. The Coronado public meeting is Dec. 18. Maybe see you there?

- K.J.