School board votes to close 3 Pasadena schools amid shrinking enrollment, financial difficulties

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- Hundreds of parents and students were outraged after the Pasadena Unified School District Board voted to close three schools in the district, citing shrinking enrollment rates and financial difficulties.

The school board reached the decision at a Thursday evening meeting, effectively shutting down Roosevelt, Jefferson, and Franklin elementary schools.

Like the other schools, Roosevelt is a neighborhood school that parents don't want to see closed. It's also the only school in the district that was specifically built to accommodate children with special needs.

"They are sacrificing the children from Roosevelt. Roosevelt was built for special needs children. Where (are) they gonna be? Where (are) they gonna go?" parent Elita Sir said as she fought back tears.

Students from the three affected schools will be directed to other campuses. Children who attend Roosevelt Elementary will be directed to Madison Elementary, Jefferson Elementary students will be directed to Longfellow Elementary and Franklin Elementary students would be sent to Altadena Elementary.

"The schools that are on this list, whether they are closed or not, are not on this list because they are bad places to be. Because they are not," said school board president, Lawrence Torres.

The district says it has been facing several ongoing challenges that have made it difficult to stay afloat. It outlined those challenges in the following written statement, which reads in part:

"Our schools face an ongoing challenge. Lower birth rates and rising housing costs mean that the number of school-aged children living in Pasadena, Altadena, and Sierra Madre continues to drop. This impacts student enrollment in PUSD and has contributed to the decrease in the amount of funding that our schools receive from the state and federal government."

Those claims are supported by statistics from the California Department of Education. Between 2013 and 2017, student enrollment in PUSD dropped an average of 270 students, according to the department. In the past two years, the average decline was around 400 students.

With 27 campuses for some 16,000 students, the district says its resources are running thin.

"We're going to see a lot of families pull their kids out of PUSD and that's really going to decline enrollment. Because it feels like there's no stability in the district," teacher A. Tejada said.

The school board will start looking into the possibility of consolidating middle and high schools next month.
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