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No schools will be closed to solve the San Diego Unified budget crisis, the school board voted today.

The decision follows months of debate, the recommendations of an appointed committee, and the resurrection of the ideas by staffers, who proposed closing a different set of schools than the committee had chosen and later reopening the buildings as small high schools or school district offices. 

“It is extremely irresponsible to go to families and communities just before the last week of school and say, ‘Your school is not going to exist anymore,’” said school board member John Lee Evans, who introduced the motion to forgo closing schools next year. He added, “This kneejerk closing schools is definitely not the solution.”

Parents and teachers had vocally protested the idea of closing schools, noting that San Diego Unified had failed to follow its existing policies for school closures, which would take more than a year of public input and discussion. Closing six elementary schools where enrollment had lagged was estimated to save nearly $2.7 million for the district, which now faces a $106 million deficit. It is believed to save money because students and teachers are reassigned to neighboring schools but a principal and facilities costs can be cut.

Evans and the board members also voted to ask staff to immediately begin discussing options to raise enrollment at the targeted schools, develop a long-term plan for school closures, and to amend the existing policy, possibly to allow school closures to go forward with a shorter period of public input and discussion.

EMILY ALPERT

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