Pasadena School Board Votes to Close Three Elementary Schools

Parents describe one of the schools as a neighborhood school known for accommodating special needs students.

Students and parents protested at City Hall Friday, urging the Pasadena Unified school board to go back to the drawing board after it voted to close three elementary schools.

In a 4-3 decision Thursday evening, the board agreed to close Franklin, Roosevelt and Jefferson elementary schools, after a three-hour meeting well attended by angry parents and students. The decision will impact 850 students.

Roosevelt Elementary is the only school in the district designed to provide care to children with special needs. It offers a late start that is helpful for special education buses, therapies and prep time for parents, a woman said at the meeting.

"Franklin needs to stay open so that kids that go to Franklin can continue with their coding program, and learn everything that they can about computer engineering," said Tanya Partida, a parent at Franklin Elementary.

The Pasadena Board of Education said they had no choice but to shut down three of the 27 elementary schools in the district by the end of the school year. Shrinking enrollment and budget restrictions, the district says, are to blame, along with a lack of sufficient state and federal funds.

The Pasadena Unified School District needs to cut $4 million to meet budget requirements for the upcoming school year, said Hilda Horvath, a district spokeswoman.

"The problem is the schools that were targeted are already disenfranchised," said Kirsten Harman, Parent-Teacher Association president said.

"Next school year, students from Franklin will be encouraged to attend Altadena Elementary; students from Jefferson will be directed toward Longfellow Elementary; and students from Roosevelt will be pointed to Madison Elementary," the Pasadena Star-News reported.

"This was a very painful decision for everyone … in the weeks ahead, we will work to ensure that the transition to new schools is as smooth as possible for everyone," said Larry Torres, the president of the Board of Education.

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