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Laurelwood Elementary

Committee says Evergreen (Calif.) district should close 2 schools

Jan. 28, 2020
The elementary district, based in San Jose, is trying to address years of steady enrollment decline.

An advisory committee in the Evergreen (Calif.) Elementary School District has recommended the closure of two elementary schools in San Jose.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that the committee is calling for the shuttering of Laurelwood and Dove Hill elementary schools in response to  years of declining enrollment and district budget shortfalls anticipated to reach $12.5 million

The Evergreen district consists of 18 schools that serve about 11,000 East San Jose students in kindergarten through eighth grade. District enrollment has  declined in recent years, and the district expects the trend to continue as families flee the Bay Area’s rising cost of living.

“I know that this situation is very personal for our families, but I am a superintendent of 18 schools, and I do need to advocate for our entire district and our overall health,” Evergreen Superintendent Emy Flores says.

Since its peak of 13,400 students in 2005-06, enrollment has declined 20 percent, which equates to a loss of nearly $28 million in state funding. Over the next five years, the district projects it will lose another 1,300 students — another $12.1 million in state funding.

Laurelwood Elementary has about 290 students. Dove Hill Elementary has about 380 students.

The district has had financial dificulties for years, and school closures have been an ongoing topic of discussion, but until now, administrators and school boards have opted not to pursue them. When Flores became superintendent in 2019i, she felt that closings were among the district’s best options to address its mounting debt.

“The last thing any board wants to do is close a school, but we’re at a place in history now, where we just can’t continue to function like we have the same funding that we had 10 years ago,” Flores says.

The advisory committee — consisting of two dozen parents, community partners, principals and teachers — was tasked with deciding which schools the district should close.

The Evergreen district also plans to close a third school at the end of 2020-21, but that school has yet to be chosen.

Flores says she has received interest from private, charter and special education schools interested in becoming tenants of the soon-to-be-vacant campuses.

The school board is scheduled to make a final decision on the school closures on Feb. 13.

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