Blue backpack full of school supplies against a pink background. Back to school concept. Copy space.

The Glendale Elementary School District voted to proceed with the proposed school closures, boundary changes and the repurposing of schools to address budget deficits due to declining enrollment.

During the March 11 meeting, GESD’s assistant superintendent of business and auxiliary services, Mike Barragan, explained that the district was considering closing schools as far back as February 2019 — before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The information and the concerns were pre-pandemic. I just want to continue to reiterate that,” Barragan said. “The meetings dated back to Feb. 9. We looked at leasing and the potential selling of land and the pros and cons of that.

“As we have stated over the last two weeks, the issues of enrollment have also been raised in the budget presentations and during the annual financial reports.”

The auditor general’s office noted a “moderate decrease” of student enrollment in 2017; in 2018 a “large decrease”; in 2019 “a decrease”; and in 2020 a 16% decrease, Barragan recalled. 

GESD’s fiscal year 2021 budget was built on 10,500 students, Barragan said. The actual enrollment was 8,339 with a difference of 2,161. That’s a 21% drop with a $14.3 million deficit, he added.

The phase one transitions for the school year 2021-22 are as follows:

Isaac E. Imes School: Students reassigned to Glenn F. Burton Elementary School, Glendale Landmark and Harold W. Smith Elementary School.

Melvin E. Sine School: Students reassigned to Glenn F. Burton Elementary School and Horizon. 

Phase two transitions for the 2022-23 school year are:

Coyote Ridge School: Students reassigned to Discovery, and the Coyote Ridge facility will be repurposed into a system of care center offering health screenings, community support and professional development resources. 

Desert Garden School: Students reassigned to Challenger or Mensendick, and those schools will be reconfigured to K-8 models. The Desert Garden building would be repurposed into a preschool facility. 

Bicentennial North School: Students reassigned to Bicentennial South or Don Mensendick. Bicentennial South is

reconfigured to a K-8 model. 

The rationale for phases one and two took into consideration the declining enrollment, population density, the life of the facility and program changes, he said. 

“The board made its decision to ensure that the district continues to be financially solvent and to uphold established goals to provide optimum learning environments for our students and staff,” said Superintendent Cindy Segotta-Jones. 

“We thank our governing board members for their leadership through this process requiring difficult governance and action to improve the district’s operational efficiencies to fulfill long-term sustainability. 

“As GESD takes the necessary next steps, we will continue to put students and staff first as we begin the transition timelines outlined in phase one and phase two. We appreciate all stakeholders in our GESD community for their ongoing support.” 

—Executive Editor Christina Fuoco-Karasinski can be reached at