Base the *Repurposing* Decision on Facts: Save Gilbert Junior High School!

The Gilbert Junior High School community is rallying once again to protect their neighborhood school. Those students, if they are displaced by the privileged 1% of students who attend Gilbert Classical Academy, will miss out on opportunities for before and after school tutoring, as well as the chance to play after school sports, because they will have to be bused 4 to 5 miles away from their neighborhood school. Availability of transportation is a major factor for lower socio-economic students. The reality for families in the Gilbert Junior High School community is that allowing students to walk to school greatly affects the education opportunities they receive. Income limitations seem to be something GCA families don’t face. How lucky for the 1% <sarcasm>.

The heartfelt letter from a Gilbert Junior High School advocate continues: <click here for Part One>

Knowing that enrollment is projected to increase, it would be irresponsible, dare I say reckless, to close a general enrollment junior high school in favor of a specialty school. Totally irresponsible. Closing a junior high would funnel those students to other schools, which would then have to accommodate both the new growth within their boundaries and the influx of students displaced by the closure of their school. Those schools would then reach capacity or spill over.

Closing a junior high anywhere in the district would and should strike a chord. At least one of our school board members knows that. During a public meeting recently, she encouraged stakeholders to keep emotion out of the process and ensured the public the district would do what’s best for everyone.
I agree.

Let’s keep emotion out of this decision. Let’s look at emotionless numbers. And, let’s do what’s best for everyone, not a select few.

Here are the numbers:

** Gilbert Junior High is projected to see a 41 percent increase in enrollment over the next few years.
** Closing a junior high would impact at least 200 teachers and staff and affect more than 14,000 students at a number of schools.
** Gilbert Classical Academy graduates about 50 percent of its enrollees.
** 99.87 percent of GPS students graduate from schools other than Gilbert Classical Academy.

The school board, and the district, has another avenue to consider, one that is formally on the table as a proposed option and carries as much weight as a proposed school closure. The board can choose to make Gilbert Classical Academy, a 7–12 program, a “school within a school” on the Mesquite Junior High campus.

It’s not a new concept. And, it’s been proven to be effective.

The “school within a school” option allows Gilbert Classical Academy to share facilities and amenities, including those for athletics and the arts, with Mesquite Junior High School. It’s a model that University High in Tucson, a nationally-lauded accelerated program, benefits from at Rincon High.

It gives GCA a better campus. It keeps the program intimate and enrollment in check, as teachers at GCA have demanded, and allows it to continue serving select, accelerated students in the way for which its become known. And, most importantly, that choice allows the district to serve ALL of its students as it continues to grow.

It doesn’t displace students. It keeps neighborhoods in tact. A “school within a school” model serves everyone, which is what the district assured the public it would do.

Heck, you could even reallocate the money you had planned to spend on campus upgrades at GJHS in preparation for GCA’s arrival and instead invest it back into the current enrollment at GJHS, a school that has long been starved for attention.

I’ll say it again, with hopes of reaching your conscience.

Please don’t close our school. Not because of the emotion behind it. Because of the facts.

We’re fighting this. Because, it’s wrong. You would do the same.

Gilbert Junior High School Community Advocate

Shown below are the most recent costs for the options under consideration for a new campus for Gilbert Classical Academy:


Enjoy this video, “What Gilbert Junior High School Gave Me.”  #SAVEGJHS

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