Parents fighting to keep elementary schools open

Posted: Updated:
By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Valley parents are fighting to keep their children’s school open.

Four schools in the Paradise Valley Unified School District could possibly be closing in May.

Dan Flanigan is against closing Sandpiper Elementary School in Scottsdale.

“It's not just a phenomenal school but we are a community that is like no other. We are very magic,” said Flanigan.

Last week, a district spokesperson said most of their elementary schools have 600 students and the four schools on the chopping block have far less than that.
According to the district, Sandpiper has 407 students, Village Vista has 332, Desert Springs has 405 and Foothills has 390.

“It's not good to have a half empty building. That's not a good learning environment for children. It's not a good social environment for children,” said district spokesperson Marty Macurak.

But a smaller school size is what many parents appreciate about Sandpiper.

“The draw of Sandpiper is actually its size. Our children do not get lost in a large school, who otherwise would not do so well in a school of 600,” said concerned parent Becky Muday.

Muday said when parents were told about the possible closures a few years ago, both parents and staff worked together, marketed the school and helped boost enrollment.

“One of the teachers referred to it as a snow ball.  We're just starting out and it's moving and it's growing,” said Muday.

Parents with students at Sandpiper expect enrollment numbers to reach 600 within a few years.

Muday said children are learning Spanish and building special relationships at Sandpiper.

These are just a few reasons she said the doors must stay open.

“The teachers know all the kids. The principals know all the children by name. They are excited when he greets them,” described Muday.

Macurak did not want to speak on-camera today.

Instead she sent an email that said in part, “We support the parents of all these schools and I think it's fine that they have their time to tell the story of their school(s). We understand the feelings about their
schools. We would like to see all four of these schools continue as they are. Whether or not that is the best decision for district students instructionally and financially in the long-term is a question that will be decided as part of this public process."

The school board will decide in December whether to push forward or hold off on the closures.

Parents are welcome to attend the board meetings leading up to the decision.

Here is a list of the upcoming meetings:

Paradise Valley Unified School District <>

Elementary school repurposings or closings and attendance boundary changes <>

Governing Board study sessions: 
Nov. 19, 6 p.m. 
Nov. 29, 6 p.m. 
Horizon High School Auditorium 
5601 E. Greenway Rd.  Scottsdale, AZ 85254

Community meetings with Dr. Lee and Cabinet 
Nov. 26, 6 p.m. 
Desert Shadows Middle School Multipurpose Room 
5858 E. Sweetwater Ave.  Scottsdale, AZ 85254 

Nov. 27, 6 p.m., 
Sunrise Middle School Multipurpose Room 
4960 E. Acoma Dr.  Scottsdale, AZ 85254

Governing Board vote 
Thursday, Dec. 20, 6 p.m. 
Desert Shadows Middle School 
Multipurpose Room 
5858 E. Sweetwater Dr.  Scottsdale, AZ 85254 

The board will vote on whether or not to close or repurpose one or more of the following schools: Desert Springs Preparatory Elementary, Foothills Elementary, Sandpiper Elementary and/or Village Vista Elementary.

A decision could also affect attendance boundaries for the following schools: Arrowhead, Desert Shadows, Indian Bend, Liberty, North Ranch and Whispering Wind.  The Governing Board shall hear reasons for and against closing any school.