District proposes closing Gilbert Jr High, moving academy - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

District proposes closing Gilbert Jr High, moving academy

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Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2012 3:00 pm

Gilbert Junior High School would be closed as a neighborhood school and Gilbert Classical Academy would move there under a plan outlined in a parent letter sent home this week.

Gilbert Unified School District Superintendent Dave Allison stated in the letter that the academy — a popular seventh- through 12th-grade college-prep school — has outgrown its space at 55 N. Greenfield Road. That campus was the original Gilbert Elementary School.

There are currently more than 100 seventh-graders on a waiting list to get into the school.

The move would mean current seventh-graders at Gilbert Junior High and incoming sixth-graders would attend Mesquite, Greenfield or Highland junior high schools. Formal boundary changes will be proposed to the governing board on Oct. 2.

“Because Gilbert Junior High School continues to have a decline in enrollment, and because of its location, it has been selected as the junior high school to repurpose. The recommendation, therefore, is that the present Gilbert Junior High School campus would become the Gilbert Classical Academy beginning July 1, 2013,” Allison stated in the letter.

Allison invited parents to attend a meeting 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Gilbert Junior High, 1016 N. Burk St.

Gilbert’s overall district enrollment has hovered around 38,000 students for the past few years, though pockets of the district have seen declines as children have grown older and their parents have stayed in their homes without children.

The move follows similar steps taken by neighboring school districts. Mesa Unified School District closed Powell, Mesa and Brimhall junior high schools in the last four years as neighborhood schools. Powell was turned into the Mesa Education Center and houses community education, a small alternative school for students and adult classes. Brimhall became Franklin at Brimhall. Several Franklin campuses that were in portable buildings, including Franklin Junior High, were moved to the Brimhall site in August.

Chandler Unified School District is converting Knox Elementary School in an aging part of the district into Knox Gifted Academy. Erie Elementary School was repurposed as Arizona College Prep – Erie campus this year.

Districts are making these moves as they try to keep buildings viable and open up programs that are popular with parents in a competitive education market.

Gilbert Classical Academy graduated its first students in 2011. The school offers a more rigorous program with students required to complete more academic credits for a diploma than students at other district high schools. The learning method includes “Socratic” discussions, where students talk and debate about subjects they are learning. An application is required for admission.

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