Mesa board votes unanimously to close 2 schools

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MESA, Ariz. -- Parents of hundreds of Mesa students are not happy with the decision to close two schools.

The governing board of Mesa Public Schools voted unanimously Tuesday night to close Mesa Junior High and Brimhall Junior High. The closures are part of the district's plan to save $2.3 million per year. The board says that money will make a difference to students throughout the district.

Mesa Junior High, which located at Horne and Broadway Road, is one of the oldest schools in the district. Not only to the buildings require quite a bit of work, enrollment has dropped by about half. Rather than spend some $4.5 million on renovations, the board opted to shut down the school.

While Brimhall, which is located southwest of Southern Avenue and Higley Road, is one of the newer campuses, its enrollment was low, as well.

A total of 1,300 junior high students will be moved to other campuses in the Mesa district.

Kids from Franklin South, Franklin Junior High and Franklin Northeast will move into the Brimhall buildings. The board felt converting Brimhall to a K-8 Back to Basics school was the best way to utilize that campus.

" It's clear we had to make some changes so that we can put that money into classrooms and preserve the electives and high quality teaching that we have right now," said Kathy Bareiss, spokeswoman for Mesa Public Schools.

The closures will take effect for the 2012 school year. Next year, the board is expected to take a close look at the district's elementary schools.

Mesa Public Schools is the largest school district in Arizona, serving more than 64,350 students during the 2011-2012 academic year. Right now, the district is comprised of 58 elementary schools, 12 junior high schools (10 next year) and six high schools, as well as various focus schools.