TUSD School Closures: Southeast side parents say the district is abandoning them

Photo: Video by kgun9.com

TUSD School Closures: Southeast side parents say the district is abandoning them

CREATED Nov. 28, 2012

Reporter: Valerie Cavazos

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- 14 TUSD schools could be on the classroom chopping block. But some Southeast side parents feel the district isn't playing fair and closing schools could destroy their neighborhood.

The closures are part of what the district is calling a School Master Plan process to fix a 17 million dollars budget shortfall next school year.

A few schools, including Santa Rita High School, were spared after last night's public hearing, but three Southeast side schools are on the list. And parents feel like the district is abandoning them.

"My concern is why close another school on the eastside," said James Doem, who has two children who attend Carson Middle School, which is on the list of possible school closures.

Not too far from Carson Middle School is Lyons Elementary. It's on the list too. Reynolds Elementary is a few blocks from Carson. It was closed two years ago.

"Shumaker, which is on Broadway and Pantano. They're thinking about closing that also. It's going to destroy our community," said Doem. "If you have nothing but closed schools, then you're not going to move over here."

KGUN9 reporter Valerie Cavazos spent  the morning talking to homeowners in neighborhoods that surround Carson middle school. Street after street -- door after door -- most of them told Cavazos  there are fewer kids in the neighborhoods.

TUSD Board member Dr. Mark Stegeman said, "One reason there aren't many kids in the neighborhood is that some families have chosen to live in Vail District and Catalina Foothills (District) and Tanque Verde (District) because they perceive the schools might be better."

And that's true. Just ask Julian Ortiz, who was waiting to pick up his son at Carson Middle School when Cavazos asked him, "You're making the decision on where then to send your child, which may not be TUSD?" He answered, "Yes. It's true. Yeah." Oritz is eyeing the Vail District for his son.

Maria Valencia, whose daughter would attend Carson next year, is considering another alternative. "I'm already looking into finding a good academics like --  La Paloma Academy -- charter schools."

These parents say they feel the district is abandoning the Southeast side.

Stegeman said, "I don't want to say that we abandoned the area, but if we close schools there's the issue of whether that makes people less likely to move in. People do like to live close to school so that's an issue to board is always aware of."

Some parents are also worried about the pressure it would put on the receiving schools -- in terms of busing and overcrowding of classrooms. Stegeman said he'd like to look into the logistics of the bus routes.  He also said, "If there is overcrowding at any of the schools, the district plans to bring in portables."

Two public hearings remains before final decisions are made. They will be held December 8th and 10th at Catalina High Magnet School. Stegeman is urging parents to show up to voice their concerns. The governing board has scheduled a special board meeting on Dec. 20 to discuss finalizing any closures.

Released by TUSD November 28, 2012

Below is the list of schools for which closure has been initiated. In parentheses are schools that the district has recommended to receive students transferring from the originating school:

Brichta Elementary School, 2110 W. Brichta Drive (Receiving School: New K-8 with Menlo Park at Maxwell, and Tolson K-5)
Carson Middle School, 7777 E. Stella Road (Receiving Schools: Secrist Middle School and Dietz Elementary, changing to Dietz K-8)
Corbett Elementary School, 5949 E. 29th St. (Receiving Schools: Wheeler Elementary, GATE program students to Hudlow or Kellond Elementary Schools)
Cragin Elementary School, 2945 N. Tucson Blvd. (Receiving Schools: Blenman Elementary School and Davidson Elementary School)
Fort Lowell/Townsend K-8, 2120 N. Beverly Blvd. (Receiving Schools: Grades K-5 to Whitmore Elementary, Grades 6-8 to Doolen and Magee Middle Schools)
Hohokam Middle School, 7400 S. Settler (Receiving School: Valencia Middle School)
Howenstine High School, 555 S. Tucson Blvd. (Receiving Schools: The home high schools of students)
Lyons Elementary School, 7555 E. Dogwood St. (Receiving Schools: Erickson Elementary School and Ford Elementary School)
Manzo Elementary School, 855 N. Melrose Ave. (Receiving School: Tully Elementary Magnet School)
Maxwell Middle School, 2802 W. Anklam Road (Receiving Schools: Mansfeld Middle School, Robins K-8, Safford Middle School, and Valencia Middle School)
Menlo Park Elementary School, 1100 W Fresno St. (Receiving Schools: New K-8 with Brichta at Maxwell, and Tolson K-5)
Schumaker Elementary School, 501 N. Maguire (Receiving Schools: Bloom Elementary School and Henry Elementary School)
Sewell Elementary School, 425 N. Sahuara Ave. (Receiving Schools: Bonillas Basic Curriculum Magnet School and Kellond Elementary School)
Wakefield Middle School, 101 W. 44th St. (Receiving Schools: New K-8 at Hollinger and Van Buskirk K-5 Elementary School)
The governing board also considered closure on Hollinger Elementary School, Pueblo Gardens K-8, and Santa Rita High School but decided against closure for those schools.