Budget shortfall forces Long Beach unified to close James Monroe Elementary School

Gov. Jerry Brown

Sharon McNary/KPCC

California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks in support of Prop. 30 at a UCLA rally. Despite passage of the school funding measure, Long Beach unified decided to close one school and reduce the number of students at a second to curb a budget deficit.

The Long Beach Unified School District plans to close James Monroe Elementary School in Lakewood, in addition to eliminating grades six through eight at Burcham K-8 School at the end of the current school year.

The reductions, voted on at a meeting on Tuesday, are part of the education board's effort to reduce the $20 million budget shortfall. The recent passage of Proposition 30 is not enough to make up the deficit, officials said.

The two closures combined will save about $3 million next year, according to Long Beach Unified School District's website, and will only displace a small number of students.

Officials said: "only 162 of Monroe’s 655 students live within the school neighborhood.  At Burcham, only 55 of the 186 students in grades six through eight live within the school neighborhood." As education funds have dwindled, along with enrollment, the school board was left with few options. 

According to NBC LA: "All students and teachers will be transferred to other schools in the district, and no layoffs are expected." But when the school year comes to a close, "Monroe Elementary will become the seventh Long Beach school to close since 2008."

Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, the roughly 700 students at Monroe Elementary were warned the school was slated for closure.

In a letter addressed to parents, Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser wrote: "note that the agenda item clearly states the intended re-use for Monroe as a site for our Personnel Commission. This agenda item also provides details on the proposed redrawing of school boundaries in light of Monroe’s potential closure."

Timothy Cavanaugh suspected the board had made up their minds about the school's fate beforehand.

“It was a preconceived decision. They didn’t give us any consideration. They obviously have already made the decision. It’s a sad day today,” he told NBC LA. “Bad decision on their part, but I guess we have to take it. … It’s like losing a family member in a way.”

Read the letter the district sent the parents:

Long Beach Unified School District Parent Letter

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