More TUSD school closures and mergers likely

Posted: Updated:

TUCSON -- Three Tucson Unified School District schools could be closed permanently by Tuesday night; and as many as five more in a couple weeks.

The grounds of Roberts Elementary School are bare. Granted, school is no longer in session, but it's a look people in the neighborhood will have to grow accustomed to.

"I think in a way, it's kind of a sad situation," Nick Marines has two sons that go to Roberts.  Chances are, they won't be there next year.

Tuesday night, the TUSD governing board will vote whether to close Roberts, van Horne and Reynolds Elementary schools.

In the case of Roberts, if the TUSD governing board decides to close that school, all of its students will go here to Naylor Middle School to form a brand new K-8. Parents we spoke with say that merger is generally considered a good thing.

"It's a bigger school, they have better installations, they have more classrooms," says Roberts Elementary parent Nick Marines.  He speaks optimistically because-- unlike in years past-- the process leading up to Tuesday's vote was public.

"In this case, the decision for mergers was driven from the school councils up, from the bottom up, as opposed to an edict from the top down," says TUSD Legal Counsel Rob Ross.

It's a method Ann-Eve Pedersen of the Tucson Unified School Supporters says has been mostly effective, "I think people are really upset that it's come to this, but i think there's a greater understanding now with what happened at the state legislature and the massive cuts to education."

She calls the upcoming elections "critical" when asked whether more schools could close in the coming years. "Because we still have a huge budget deficit moving forward, even with the passage of Prop 100," says Pedersen.

Yet even with an expected budget deficit, Nick Marines is eager to see what a merged school means for his children, "Everyone agrees that it's for the better."

The next round of school closures in TUSD may happen as soon as July first.