Gilbert parents upset about school shutdown plan

Posted at 6:43 PM, Feb 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-24 23:56:23-05

Some parents in Gilbert are upset over a proposal that may shut down one of two schools in the Gilbert Unified School District.

The district is considering closing either Gilbert or Mesquite Junior High schools as they try to find a home for the Gilbert Classical Academy, a specialty school. 

“Oh he’s angry. He’s very angry. All my children are all upset," parent Kim Galloway said.

Five of her six children have attended Gilbert Junior High, just steps away from their home. But this coming school year, she's left wondering where her last child will go.

“If they’re going to close the school, I don’t know what I will be doing with my 6th grader," Galloway said. 

And hundreds of other parents are in the same boat. The students who currently attend the junior highs would be forced to find a school farther from home.

“A lot of them are latchkey kids. They don’t need to be transported across town," said Janet Sotomayor, whose children attended Gilbert Junior High in the past.

It’s not just parents who have a stake in this.

"It compromises my safety. It compromises the safety of my neighbor's children who are walking to school," said Tamara Duke, who lives behind the school.

She's concerned because enrollment would grow at the new school, for grades 7 through 12, and with that, so would traffic.

“Extra cars in these two-lane neighborhood streets. There’s a four-way stop at the corner that is just dicey at best as it is," Duke said. 

Just a few years ago, a similar plan by the district failed after parents and the state got involved. Parents hope their efforts are successful once again.

“Really listen to the parents, and really think about the community that elected you to speak and serve the community rather than the district," said Lisa Nicita, who's behind the effort to keep the schools open. 

ABC15 reached out to the Gilbert Unified School District to learn more about their plan, and we did not get a response. 

The school board is expected to vote on a plan next month.