Meeting held to discuss possible closure of 3 Tempe schools

Posted: Updated:

TEMPE, Ariz. – Hundreds gathered Wednesday inside a Tempe middle school that is in danger of closing.

Arizona’s budget crisis is putting a lot of stress on school districts, forcing the possible closure of several schools.

About 300 people attended a meeting at McKemy Middle School in Tempe, one of three schools that would be affected.

The crowd heard pleas from teachers, parents and students to keep the aging building open.

“It doesn’t matter if the building is over 50 years old, what counts is the heart of the building,” one student said.

“If we get shut down, it will break the hearts of everyone in my family,” another one added.

Nevertheless, enrollment and state funding is decreasing and the school district is dealing with budget problems.

In the 2008-2009 school year, the Tempe Elementary School District spent $7,031,603.24 on salaries of 169 full-time positions, according to spokeswoman Monica Allread. This school year, the district will spend $6,613,183.60 on 154 full-time positions.

District officials say closing McKemy Middle School would save about $1.6 million. The closure of Meyer Elementary School would save $755,000 and closing Bustoz Elementary would save the district another $620,000 per year.

Some parents say there has to be another way to save money.

Teacher Joann Hopper tried to reassure parents that should their kids’ schools close, they will be “absorbed with open arms in all of our middle schools.”

A final decision on the matter is expected in April.