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D11 unveils two master plans to improve schools district-wide, curriculum

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Posted at 10:50 AM, Feb 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-21 13:14:45-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — District 11 has unveiled a facilities and academic master plan to improve buildings district-wide and improve curriculum to include more career and technical education.

As part of the plan, the district plans to make priority improvements in 31 schools in the worst condition, prioritizing investments in those schools serving the highest percentage of students, including rebuilding and renovating 15. Seven campuses will be re-purposed.

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Data shows the smallest elementary schools are the oldest, have the highest condition needs, the highest percentage of students who choice out of the boundary, and serve the highest percentage of students on free and reduced lunch.

The estimated master plan will cost over $1 billion with secondary repairs costing $327,245,871, priority repairs 239,275,292, rebuilding $348,859,159, renovating $98,920,672, and $16,240,525. The district plans to propose several bonds to voters.

Right now, they're considering a no-tax-increase bond for this November.

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Financial Assumptions:

$25M: General Fund – $5 million per year over 5 years

$75M: Mill Levy Override 2017 – $15 million per year over 5 years

$350M: Bond – proceeds from sustaining current mils (no tax increase)

Target Fall 2021. $450M: Phase 1 – 2021-2026

Jessica Rodriguez has two children in District 11 and says she was surprised at how much the plan would cost to implement.

"A billion dollars is very scary to a lot of people," said Rodriguez. "That's a lot of money to rebuild and redo schools. I think there are other needs that need to come first."

With so many children falling behind because of the pandemic, she says the district needs to focus efforts on helping kids get back on track.

"If we're spending money, let's use it to educate teachers, smaller class sizes, hiring more teachers. Not rebuilding buildings," said Rodriguez.

The district says these plans have been years in the making and with help from a consulting firm, they've developed the best long-term strategy to improve facilities, declining enrollment, and other district needs.

"Facilities have to be in a place where parents and students are comfortable in them so they can receive quality education instruction. So it's only when you marry the two together that it will bring students back to us," said Terry Seaman, Executive Director of Facilities, Operations, and Transportation for District 11.

"We're seeing the trends, we're seeing what kids need. Some of these kids are going to school and their kids haven't yet been developed so we're looking at refurbishing some of our high school areas so we're keeping up with those trends, specifically in career and technical education," said Devra Ashby, Chief Communications Officer for District 11. "Since we're meshing our academic plan with our facilities plan, we're preparing to outfit those classrooms to meet the academics and increasing the academics of our students."

As the longest-standing school district in Colorado Springs, the district says it's time to rebuild, especially with the city growing so rapidly.

"Our facilities are aging. Some of them are reaching their life expectancy and yes buildings have a life expectancy. They are not going to last forever so we can continue to do repairs but eventually we are going to have to rebuild some of the buildings. Some of those buildings are a little past due, but that is one thing the facilities master plan is helping us to figure out, which ones to rebuild and why," said Hannah DeFord, Project Manager for District 11.

Rodriguez says she's not opposed to the plan but wants transparency on how funds are spent ad how it will improve the education of her children.

"I really want to see some transparency, really detailed plans of how this money will be spent or I'm not voting for it," said Rodriguez.

For community members who have any questions or concerns, the district is encouraging those to attend town hall meetings.

Town Hall Meetings:

Doherty High School Feeder Schools Community Engagement Session
Date: February 22
Time: 4 p.m.-5 p.m.

Coronado High School Feeder Schools Community Engagement Session
Date: February 22
Time: 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m.

Mitchell High School Feeder Schools Community Engagement Session
Date: February 23
Time: 4 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

Palmer High School Feeder Schools Community Engagement Session
Date: February 23
Time: 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m.