South High School Alumni Foundation

Letter from the Alumni Foundation to D-60 Board of Education

4/11/19

Everyone: SHS Alumni Foundation President Mike Carlisle has delivered this letter to the D-60 school board. Your support for keeping South open as a high school is vital. Please let school board and administration leaders hear your voice. Thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                                       -- Your alumni board

 

April 8, 2019

 

Barbara Clementi

Pueblo City Schools

315 W. 11th

Pueblo, Co. 81003

 

RE: Save South High School

 

Dear Ms. Clementi,

 

As president of the South High School Alumni Foundation, I write to voice the Alumni board of directors’ concerns about the most recent school closure proposals submitted to the Pueblo City Schools Board of Education.

To date, our board, which has donated more than $700,000 to support the students, teachers and the school since 2006, has been silent so as to allow the review and discussion of the 18 options to run its course.

Now that the board will hold a work session Thursday afternoon on the remaining two options -- to operate either with four high schools or two -- we want to stress several points for your full consideration:

  • Our Board and many other alumni support the need to close or reconfigure schools in the community, but to do so in a way that respects Pueblo’s long history as a four high school system.
  • The two high school plan ignores the academic strength and fiscally sound operation of South by converting it to a middle school and move the Colts to Central High School.
  • Central has 717 students. Nearly half, 332 (46.3%) of them, transfer in for many reasons, including scholarship and athletic opportunities. We accept the Schools of Choice option, but please note that many transfers already live in the South area. South’s student body of more than 1,000 has 325 transfers (32.5%). That means it already has a larger neighborhood student population than Central’s. Should the district move to two high schools, keeping South over Central would disrupt fewer students and their families.
  • Closing South as a high school will cause many Colts and their parents to reject District 60 schools for seats in District 70 or area charter schools, further reducing D-60’s State Pupil Funds. (Many D-70 schools already have waiting lists for D-60 students.)
  • South High’s Priority 1 critical repairs of $16 million will cost far fewer dollars than Central’s $29 million, East’s $62 million and Centennial’s $65 million. You need community support to pass a bond issue. Closing South as a high school won’t make sound fiscal sense across the city, much less the south side where voter turnout is more significant than in many areas.
  • South High already is a comprehensive high school with a 1,700-student capacity that houses all activities on one site. Central’s students must leave that site for baseball, tennis and softball practices.  If an emergency occurs off site, Central school information and support is not in an adjacent building. That is a concern many South parents will weigh heavily.
  • Colts now enjoy an Alumni-funded, $50,000, fully-refurbished indoor practice facility for athletic, cheer and band activities. The outbuilding will see use by baseball, football, softball, soccer, golf, cheer/dance, tennis/band kids in bad weather.
  • One major South foundation investment over the years, of some $200,000, has been to buy iPads and Chromebook mobile carts, or some 150 units for students and an iPad for each staff member. And the Foundation board will soon spend another $35,000 on three more carts, or 90 Chromebooks.
  •  We also spent $2,000+ for technology for special needs students,$6,000 on the newest graphing and high-level math calculators, $4,000 to update chemicals. Last fall we spent $12,600 on scales for Science labs, a new Art Department kiln and supplies, and mats to allow multipurpose gym use in the wrestling room in the off-season.
  • Parking, day and night, is a huge safety concern when thinking of moving 1,000+ students to Central. Where South has two onsite parking lots, Central has one, which will force many students or family members either to park on the streets or behind Keating, and cross a busy street to walk to a five-story building for classes or events. Yes, some students will be bused, but to place hundreds more vehicles on CHS area streets will create another headache for area residents and Pueblo police.
  • South boasts of an Alumni-financed, refurbished gymnasium, new mats to expand the role of the wrestling room, a newly designated commons area in the $60,000 (inclusive of in-kind contributions) upgraded school courtyard and Veterans Memorial, a high-tech Distance Learning Lab, a furnished Media Center, a $10,000 Counseling area, and a classroom converted into a state-of-the-art Broadcasting Studio and $2,000, new technology and sound systems that we supported.
  •  We recently agreed to buy $7,500 to replace missing or semi-functional instruments for the music program. We have helped buy badly needed band, soccer and swim uniforms and warm-up attire; helped rejuvenate speech and debate club; supported the summer musical; and helped South Key Club members and others to groom their leadership skills at state, regional and national competitions. In recent weeks that aided a South High student elected lieutenant governor for Key Clubs in a three-state area.
  • The Foundation annually buys some 15 new letter jackets at $300 each, and gym uniform for students needing financial help, $6,000.  We also assist our 140-strong Junior ROTC program.
  • South High School students attend multiple AP classes, excel in the arts and performing arts, enjoy a growing Music and Band program, have high enrollments in digital media and video arts, a CAD lab, woods and metals classes including welding, and STEM classes including astronomy (using a digital telescope and camera equipment and individual technology for all classes).
  • Each year the Alumni Foundation supports the principal’s discretionary fund at $2,000 or more. We also pay for additional copy paper and copy machine copies for teachers, host the annual Opening of School Luncheon and sponsor summer sports teams’ activities.  We pay for student bus use to club and sports events -- even paid for students’ event registration fees.

 

Our Foundation’s ongoing financial and in-kind support allows the Pueblo City Schools Board to spend its taxpayer-generated dollars on critical needs only the board can direct.  Our efforts reach beyond the ranks of past graduates. We have cultivated many non-graduate friends of South who live here and elsewhere, people who generously support us when asked.

Most importantly, we urge you to keep Pueblo’s four high school system going forward and believe the maximum value to Pueblo is to keep South High School educating Pueblo’s children as high schoolers, which is what it was and is designed for -- in service to the south side.

We believe South High can continue to excel in a 9-12 grade configuration or a 7-12 option, with seventh and eighth considered a “High School Prep Academy,” and ninth through twelfth grades a “College and Career Academy.” You have heard from many in the community and we are speaking. We would welcome discussion in person on these points, but that allows student moves to increase high school occupancy and closure of the city’s more dated middle schools.

Further, a sign of a stable neighborhood and school environment in south Pueblo are these significant numbers, provided by The Kaufman Agency, to wit:

New homes on the southside since April 2017: 579

Average southside home price: $218,900

Average 2017 Pueblo home price: $179,491

 

It has been written that one letter of concern represents 10,000 people. Our estimate is this letter represents many more south Puebloans who live, work, pay taxes and vote in significant numbers that should not be overlooked when you seek to pass a bond issue.

Thank you for taking time to read and consider this letter.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Michael Carlisle

President, Representing the

South High School Alumni Foundation

mcarlisle2147@hotmail.com

(719) 671-1424

 

Cc:  Pueblo City Schools board members

             Charlotte Macaluso, Superintendent of Schools

       Aaron Bravo, Principal, South High School

             Nicholas Gradisar, Pueblo Mayor

             Dennis Flores, Pueblo City Council President

            Troy Davenport, Chief of Police

             Pueblo City Council members

 

             Pueblo County Board of Commissioners & Jeff Shaw, PEDCO

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