The Main Stream

Nov 28, 2012 1:22 AM by Sean Mooney

Hundreds oppose TUSD school closures plan

TUCSON - The Tucson Unified School District Governing Board Tuesday considered a proposal to close more campuses as the city's largest school system faces a $17 million budget deficit.

Last year TUSD shut down nine elementary schools, saving an estimated $3 million annually.

The Governing Board last week agreed to move forward with closures of four elementary schools: Sewell Corbett, Lyons, Schumaker, plus Carson Middle School, Hohokam Middle Schools, Fort Lowell/Townsend K-8 and Howenstine Magnet High School.

Tuesday night the panel hearing plans to shutter eight other campuses, six elementaries: Hollinger, Cragin, Brichta, Menlo Park, Warren, Manzo, also Pueblo Gardens Pre-K through 8, and Santa Rita High School.

Last week's board meeting was very orderly and reserved. This time around, it was more like a pep rally with every school on the chopping block being represented "loud and proud" by a throng of supporters.

Most people who attended the meeting understood the financial strain TUSD is under but to the families with schools that might close it has nothing to do with money.

"The school is the heart of our community, said Irene Escarcega, a TUSD teacher who's grandchildren attend district schools. "We got our school there are community will literally die."
"If Townsend gets closed he's going to have to go to Doolen, said Tippy Haumesser, mother of a middle school student. "We didn't want him to go to Doolen (Middle School) in the first place. And to think that he could get forced to go there I'm like really upset about it."

Lyons Elementary School Principal Sheila Govern backed the Governing Board. "We have to trust Our school board to make these really really difficult decisions," she said.

Originally, TUSD staff had recommended closing just 10 schools. However, the total eventually could reach as many as 16 schools. That would save the district an estimated $5-6 million annually, a number that falls $10 million short of what TUSD needs to make ends meet.

"If staff can defend 12 or 14 or 15 or whatever turns out to be And if they can convince a majority of the board it's worth taking the next step then we could end up with more," said TUSD Board Member Mark Stegeman.

No matter the decision Tuesday Night, TUSD will still hold a series of public hearings starting on December 8 before the Governing Board will make a final decision to close any schools.

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