Cave Creek parents protesting middle school closure

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Students fighting to save campus

Cave Creek parents protesting middle school closure - A Cave Creek school district that's struggling with its budget is considering closing one of its middle schools, but parents are fighting the move every step of the way.

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CAVE CREEK -- A Cave Creek school district that's struggling with its budget is considering closing one of its middle schools, but parents are fighting the move every step of the way.

Concerned parents were expected to gather Wednesday morning to protest the possible closure of Desert Arroyo Middle School, which is part of the Cave Creek Unified School District.

Desert Arroyo currently has about 400 students.

School district officials said they are facing a budget shortfall of between $4 million and $6 million for the 2009-2010 school year.

After a four-to-one vote by the governing board, parents were notified about the possible closure of Desert Arroyo.

An emotional community meeting was held back in March, during which parents asked a variety of questions, including what would happen to their property values without the school. They were also concerned about the busing situation and class sizes at the schools to which the students were transferred.

Despite parents' worries, the district says it doesn't have any other options, but the closure is a worst-case scenario.

Under the closure plan, fifth graders would stay at their current elementary schools. The sixth and seventh graders at Desert Arroyo would be sent to Sonoran Trails Middle School.

Because the state budget has not been finalized, the district has not yet made its final determination. Parents aren't waiting, though. They are already petitioning to keep the school open. "This [school] is the heart of our community," parent Andrea Nelson said. "We have great support, more than the board realizes."

The Cave Creek Unified School District issued the following statement on Wednesday afternoon:

In its effort to be fiscally responsible, the Cave Creek Unified School District Governing Board voted to start the timeline for potential closure of Desert Arroyo Middle School prior to the start of the 2009-2010 school year. Arizona Revised Statues state that the district must hold a public meeting 30 days from the decision to start the timeline. The public meeting will be held Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. in the Governing Board Room located at 33016 N. 60th Street Scottsdale, Az. 85266. A second public meeting will be held Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. also in the Governing Board Room. We are very hopeful that the state budget cuts will be less than expected and that there will be no school closure this year.