TUSD: What's next after school closure decision?
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - After weeks of discussion, fears and tears, TUSD's board made it official Thursday night.
Board members voted to close 11 schools to help solve a 17 million dollar hole in the budget.
The board spared three schools it had considered.
Schools are a very human enterprise, that can collide with the harsh realities of dollars and cents.
Parents may question whether TUSD used the right numbers, or gave the schools they love a fair shake but the fact is, this school and ten others will close at the end of the school year.
In a series of meetings the board considered operating costs, school achievement, and population patterns. But the main thing 3rd grader Pablo Lujan knows is Brichta Elementary---a school he loves---is closing.
He says, "I don't even agree with this, closing schools, nothing agreeing to that.">
Pablo's mother, Maryann Estrada Lujan and Stephanie Hamilton, who also has kids at Brichta say TUSD's board decided to shut down effective, efficient schools without really considering parent's arguments to keep them open.
Stephanie Hamilton says, "They don't seem to think they need our buy-in or any kind of support or endorsement from us."
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Maryann Estrada Lujan: "What do you think about that?" She said, "I think the whole thing was already decided. Our destiny was already made up before we got there."
These parents think the closures will aggravate TUSD's problems by prompting families to switch to charter schools or move to other districts.
This memo from TUSD outlines where students from closed schools will go.
We asked Superintendent Dr. John Pedicone if he fears parents may move students even before the schools close, or achievement will suffer because students and staff are depressed that the closure is coming.
He said, "Do we have concerns about that? Of course. We hope parents will understand. We're gonna take care or your children over the course of this semester like we would any other period of time and we'll be preparing students for that transition carefully and sensitively."
Dr. Pedicone says the leadership of the principals will be crucial to easing the transition. But principals losing a school are in real danger of not finding a new principal's job in a different school, though the district will try to find them new positions.
Dr. Pedicone says teachers will probably find new slots in the schools students will transfer to. He says the real savings here is in administrative and building costs, not in educational costs.