AZUSA, Calif. (KABC) -- Lower enrollment at a high school in Azusa is spurring a domino effect. The impending changes are hitting the community hard.
Special education teacher aid Joan Hemrick feels heartbroken. Established in 1964, Gladstone High School is closing.
"We've all been a big community here so it's just very sad," Hemrick said.
She and other educators, along with all the students, will be moving to Azusa High School for the 2023-24 school year in light of declining enrollment.
"I've been at the school for over 20 years. I've loved working with the teachers here," Hemrick said. "So yeah, I'm going to be sad. It's going to be hard for our visually impaired kids to make the switch because the campground, the campus over at the other school has got a lot more challenging hallways for them to go through."
Gladstone High School is becoming Gladstone Middle School, taking in students from three middle schools slated for closure: Center School, Slauson Middle School and Foothill Middle School.
"I understand enrollment is down, and I know they're just working with numbers," Hemrick said.
Azusa Unified School District Superintendent Arturo Ortega blames the rapid reduction of enrollment over the last several years on a declining birthrate in the state, and skyrocketing housing prices driving more and more people out of the state.
"The state is in a decline of enrollment, the state of California, particularly here in the valley," Ortega said.
He says the district was forced to make tough decisions to maximize resources.
"When we look at the programs that we're able to offer our students, and the facilities that we're able to offer our students, coupled with declining enrollment, this was a move to make sure that we're offering top notch programs, and top notch facilities for our students," Ortega said.