School Board Meets Tonight, Will Hear School Closures Recommendation

Published : Thursday, March 15, 2018 | 5:42 AM

PUSD Schools

A Pasadena Unified School District Committee will recommend to the School Board Thursday night that five District schools be closed and their students transferred to other existing schools beginning in the 2019-2020 school year as the District copes with the impact of significant budget shortfalls.

The Superintendent’s School Consolidation and Boundary Committee will recommend that Wilson Middle School, Blair High School, Jefferson Elementary, Cleveland Elementary and Franklin Elementary be consolidated.

The recommendation will be delivered as a presentation. The Board is not expected to take any action on the recommendation or any part of it on Thursday.

The Consolidation and Boundary Committee is comprised of District parents, teachers, and staff who studied data, extensively surveyed parents and produced a detailed 75-page report.

 


To read the full report, click here


Selected from a pool of applicants by the school board, with two members representing each of the seven school board districts, the committee started meeting in October last year and met for at least six times until January.

The members were asked to provide input and were instructed to remain objective, considering all Pasadena Unified students. An average of 12 committee members attended and participated in each meeting, the preliminary report said, with representatives from the District’s Facilities department attending and providing expert information to the committee members.

The report said the committee focused its planning on the consolidation of facilities, while considering the impact of consolidation on overall district enrollment changes.

The Committee also used an online survey administered by Cooperative Strategies, where a total of 1,415 responses were collected over a period of 10 weeks.

The preliminary report also showed the committee discussed a number of options that Pasadena Unified would take in implementing the consolidation process, along with several varied steps those options are to be undertaken.

In the case of Wilson Middle School, for example, the committee gave five variations of the process, including discontinuing the Blair High School program and moving all Wilson Middle School students to Blair, vacating Wilson. In this scenario, Blair students will be distributed between Pasadena High School and Muir High School.

The second variation for Wilson involves discontinuing the Marshall High School program, distributing Marshall students between Pasadena High and Muir High, and moving all Wilson students into the Marshall facility which would become a middle school. In this scenario, Blair High will remain a 6-12 school.

The committee is expected to explain each consolidation option in detail during Thursday’s Board of Education meeting.

Overall, the recommendation is expected to result in annual cost savings for PUSD in the range of $700,000 to $1.2 million.

During its deliberations, Committee was guided by a number of “core beliefs,” among which are that the committee supports the consolidation of secondary schools over elementary schools and that elementary schools should be supported because they are the gateway into PUSD.

Another core belief is that the consolidation of secondary schools should yield more cost savings due to the size of the facilities and that this should also result in larger student populations at the remaining schools which will naturally create more program opportunities.

The report also mentioned that an increasing “saturation” of charter schools in Altadena has a detrimental impact on the community.

As for facilities that will be vacated or closed, the committee is recommending that the District use them to house existing programs in need of additional space, before considering offers to outside entities. The report emphasized that the committee does not recommend vacating a facility if it were to be turned over to a “competitor.”

The report indicated the committee placed a high value on increasing enrollment at schools through consolidation to create more program opportunities for students.

“The committee quickly realized that because of low enrollment at many schools, resources were spread thin and those students did not have the same access to programs as others at schools with higher enrollment,” the report said.

The Pasadena Board of Education public meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Elbie J. Hickambottom Board at PUSD, 351 South Hudson Avenue in Pasadena.

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