The Glendale Elementary School District governing board held a meeting on Feb. 25 where community members expressed their thoughts on proposed school closures.
The board may take action on March 11 to close five schools in the district to address budgetary demands due to declining enrollment.
The first schools that would be impacted by the proposed closures in the 2021-22 school year are Isaac E. Imes and Melvin E. Sine schools.
According to the GESD website, the following factors have prompted the discussion of school closures:
• Below-average birth rates that began during the recession.
• Lack of affordable family housing and residential development within the GESD boundaries.
• Increased competition from K-8 charter schools and alternative education providers.
Community members, parents and students presented their disapproval over these school closures during the meeting.
Concerns about overcrowded classrooms, transportation and community impact were among the many complaints to the board.
Several community members described Issac E. Imes, Melvin E. Sine and Coyote Ridge as their second home.
Community member Jamie Aldama called the proposed closures discriminatory.
“Closing two predominantly Hispanic schools in a neighborhood that has one of the highest rates of poverty, with more than half of the residents in the neighborhood living below the federal poverty level, is discriminatory,” Aldama said.
Aldama feels there is a lack of representation for the community these closures will impact.
“You are decimating a community,” Aldama said.
Aldama also serves as councilmember in Glendale in the Ocotillo District.
One community member described the possible closures as “racist,” as they feel targeted at the predominantly Hispanic schools in the district. He added the north side has had preferential treatment and the Hispanic community has had to fight for rights. Marches and protests are planned.
If the closures pass, students from Isaac E. Imes would be reassigned to Glenn F. Burton Elementary School, Glendale Landmark and Harold W. Smith Elementary School.
Students at Melvin E. Sine would attend Glenn F. Burton and Horizon.
Parents, students and community members all expressed their admiration for these schools and asked the board to reconsider their proposal.
“I’m here to save Imes, and we are not going to go quietly,” community member Maria Esquerra said. “You will keep hearing from us.”
The second phase of the proposed closures would include Coyote Ridge, Desert Garden and Bicentennial North.
The GESD governing board will hold a second public meeting on March 11 to hear public comments on the proposed boundary changes and school.