West side residents put schools slated for closure on display

Photo: Video by kgun9.com

West side residents put schools slated for closure on display

CREATED Dec. 7, 2012

Reporter: Maggie Vespa

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The fight to stay open is growing fiercer by the minute, as TUSD board members continue weighing their cost cutting options, a list that includes closing up to 13 area schools.

They hit the ground running at high noon.
 
"We expect our current board and new board members to follow the will, the community mandate," said organizer Miguel Ortega.
 
At a press conference Friday afternoon, dozens of west side residents came together in support of a trio of elementary schools:  Brichta, Menlo park and Manzo.
 
"You should have come to us and said 'We have a problem.  There's a deficit here, and it's going to hit your children hard'," said Brichta parent Stephanie Hamilton.
 
Their challenge... let us prove it to you.
 
That night, Manzo Elementary put its money where its mouth is.
 
"We're doing a bird watching habitat, in addition to our wonderful green house," said principal Mark Alvarez.
 
Hundreds turned out for a large scale show and tell of the school's ecology department.
 
School officials say it stands as a solution to the district's budget and enrollment woes.
 
"Letting them reach their full potential to be able to attract kids into our TUSD seats, as we were once a thriving district, and I believe TUSD has the potential to be the best district in the state," said Alvarez.
 
Those are points that TUSD board members say they came to consider.
 
"It's important that if we're considering any consolidations or closures or mergers, that we should visit the sight and get that opportunity to understand the full effect of our decision," said board president Miguel Cuevas, who attended the open house.
 
"I don't believe that the criteria is the sole source that we need to be using to go across the spectrum in closing the schools," added board member Michael Hicks.
 
It's news that comes as a welcome relief to parents, who worry what life without manzo will mean for their kids and their community.
 
"We know everybody.  I know each child by their name," said Maricelea Parra.  "So please, I really want the TUSD board members to consider not closing this school."
 
Community members encouraged to weigh in at two public hearings on these closures.
 
They are set for Saturday, December 8th 10 a.m. and Monday, December 10th at 6 p.m.
 
Both will take place at Catalina High School.

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