Gilbert Junior High School closing after controversial vote

Posted at 10:55 PM, May 30, 2017

Gilbert Junior High School is officially closing after a controversial vote Tuesday.

This decision is the latest in a saga that’s been playing out for five years.

The board voted 5-0 to close Gilbert Junior High School and move those students into nearby Mesquite Junior High. Another 5-0 vote authorized Gilbert Classical Academy to move into the old Gilbert Junior High building.

The changes will take effect for the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

The board’s decision is based partly on declining enrollment at Gilbert Junior High.  Mesquite and Gilbert Junior have been well below capacity for years.

Another pat of the decision is based on Gilbert Classical Academy’s need for better facilities. The school opened in 2007 as a school for honors students in grades seven through 12. However, the academy has operated out of a temporary campus with portable classrooms for a decade. 

Gilbert Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said physically moving items from one building to to the next will cost the district just under $60,000. The Gilbert Junior High building also needs roughly $1,000,000 in renovations to accommodate several high school level programs that weren’t offered at the junior high level. 

The issue has sparked heated debate for years. 

The school closing talk started in 2012. Decisions were made and abandoned through 2012, 2013 and 2014.

In 2016, the board voted to move Gilbert Classical into the Mesquite building to create a “campus within a campus.  That plan would have left Gilbert Junior High alone.  However, with the November election came several new board members and that plan was scrapped.

Gilbert Junior High School can fit 1,200 kids but next year's projected enrollment was roughly 400.