School trustees get an earful on school closure proposals

City News Service

The San Diego Unified School District, which could face a budget shortfall of $60 million to $118 million for the 2012-13 academic year, could save $5 million annually by closing or consolidating 10 schools, according to information presented to the Board of Education Tuesday.

Although no action was taken on the information presented, parents, teachers and students spoke out about the potential closures, most wearing T-shirts or holding signs supporting the schools potentially slated for closure.

A 22-member realignment/closure committee, which began meeting in January, preliminarily identified Bayview Terrace, Cadman, Cabrillo, Cubberley, Franklin, Marvin, Paradise Hills and Vista Grande schools for possible closure.

However a first reading of their initial recommendations is set for a future meeting.

The committee is still developing their process,'' said board member Kevin Beiser.

The report stated:

• The Barnard Mandarin Chinese Magnet School could be moved to an

alternate site;

• Pacific Beach Middle School programs could be merged into Mission Bay High School;

• The Crown Point Junior Music Academy would be closed, its violin program, whose students performed for the board, moved to Bayview Terrace campus;

• Crawford High School could break up its four academies and revert to traditional school status;

• the two schools at the Emerson-Bandini campus could become one program;

• San Diego High School could merge its communications academy, science and technology programs;

• either Dana or Correia middle schools could be closed with the spared campus becoming a cluster-wide middle school; and

• the Lincoln High School and Point Loma clusters could have their grade levels changed.

The committee also identified 21 additional schools which could form the basis of a second round of closures or consolidations.

"I believe we need to approach this process very, very carefully,'' said board President Richard Barrera. Everything we do is about a balance between the need to save money to ward off insolvency, and everything that comes with insolvency, verses the impact on kids.''

The recommendations were based on a variety of factors, such as enrollment over 10 years, each school's capacity compared to its enrollment numbers, transportation needs and programs unique to each school, Deputy Superintendent Phil Stover said.

"I think we need to be aware of what we're doing as a school district by engaging this amount of energy and creating this amount of anxiety for a solution that is ultimately about a few million dollars,'' Barrera said.

"The solution to the budget crisis, short-term and long-term, is not to close schools so the district can go into the real estate business.''

The board is scheduled to vote on the committee's final recommendations Dec. 13.

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