Supplies over notepads in front of chalk board

The Glendale Elementary School District is tentatively planning to close or repurpose up to five schools by the end of the 2022-23 school year.

The governing board read written comments and concerns from parents and faculty members during its meeting on Feb. 4. It also heard a two-phase timeline of closing, repurposing or changing the boundaries for schools.

Phase one of the proposed closures will be during the 2021-22 school year.

The board members said Isaac E. Imes and Melvin E. Sine elementary schools should close during phase one. Students from Imes would be reassigned to either Glenn F. Burton, Glendale Landmark or Harold W. Smith. Sine students would go to either Burton or Horizon elementary schools.

Phase two would occur during the 2022-23 school year and would close Coyote Ridge, Desert Garden and Bicentennial North elementary schools.

Coyote Ridge and Desert Garden would be repurposed, and their students would be sent to either Discovery or Don Mensendick elementary schools or Challenger Middle School. Students from Bicentennial North would be sent to Bicentennial South or Mensendick.

Bicentennial South would turn to a K-8 model.

The repurposed school could be used as a community-oriented service facility, like a preschool or a center for professional development.

The proposed timeline was approved by the governing board, which has the right to stop school closures at any time.

Parents and staff members were concerned about the potential closure of up to five schools during the pandemic. Most concerns highlighted the pandemic as a cause for the decrease in enrollment rates and believe that closing schools because of it will lead to higher classroom sizes in the future.

“Many students lost during the pandemic could return once schools safely open,” according to a letter signed by about 20 concerned residents. 

“The district should not be making student enrollment projections during this unprecedented, unpredictable time. I would also like to see what the implementation of phase one will do to our schools. My worry is the vote to close five schools could cause a future crisis of overcrowded schools.”

The governing board will hold a public hearing on Thursday, Feb. 25, to hear comments from the public about the proposed closures. Another meeting about the closures will be held on Thursday, March 11, when the board can take action to close schools. 

Glendale Elementary School District enrollment has declined by about 100 students over a 15-year period and with the addition of four school sites, according to the school district website. Potential contributions to that include a lack of affordable family housing and increased competition from K-8 charter schools and alternative education providers.

The goals of the potential closures are to ensure financial stability, address the achievement gap and implement a System of Care for the students, staff and community throughout the district by June.