by David Safier
Tucson Council Member Regina Romero wrote a letter to the TUSD Board expressing her concern about the proposed school closures in Westside neighborhoods. Her closing paragraph asks the outgoing Board to hold any decisions until the newly elected Board members are seated in January.
Here's Romero's letter.
RE: Proposed School Closures
Dear Tucson Unified School District Governing Board,
During the November 27th board meeting at Catalina High School, the
Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) Governing Board voted to close
four Westside neighborhood schools; Brichta, Manzo, Maxwell, and Menlo
These schools boast amazing programs, staff, and students, and serve as
neighborhood connectors and community spaces. The elimination of these
schools will severely limit public education alternatives and force
Westside families away from TUSD.
The disproportionate emphasis on Westside closures is alarming, and the
public has yet to hear of a comprehensive plan to deal with the fallout.
Pending questions include placement of students, retention, equity
implications, transportation accommodations, infrastructure capacity,
how to deal with vacant facilities, and more. How does TUSD plan to
address the concerns expressed by families in our community? Our
constituents expect a detailed explanation from TUSD Administration
regarding these matters.
The economic impact of closing schools in these neighborhoods cannot be
understated. People’s largest investment is their home, and within
communities of color this is especially true. Drops in home values and
foreclosure remain a disproportionately significant problem for our
residents, and the specter of closure, neglect, and blight in these
areas only adds fuel to that fire.
The City of Tucson is working to increase economic development to
attract and retain employers. We have seen great success in recent years
by passing ordinances to provide incentives to companies creating
high-wage long term jobs for the region.
Tucson employers need talented, well educated people prepared for the
jobs of the future. This investment is our responsibility, and sweeping
closures across a large, contiguous area within our City flies in the
face of that commitment to students.
On November 6, 2012, Tucson voters elected Kristel Foster and Camiliano
Juarez to the TUSD Board, endorsing their vision for our local schools
and the district. I would ask that the outgoing board allow the will of
the electorate to be heard, and leave these substantial decisions to the
individuals elected to make them.