As part of continued cost-cutting measures, Long Beach Unified School District staff has proposed closing Monroe K-8 School and eliminating grades six through eight at Burcham K-8 School at the end of this school year. The Board of Education may act upon the proposal at its Dec. 4 board meeting.
The school board first heard the proposal at its public workshop meeting last week.
While California voters’ passage of Proposition 30 provides temporary tax increases to prevent deeper cuts to schools, LBUSD still must trim $20 million from its budget. Had Prop. 30 failed, the school district would have faced $35 million in cuts.
The Monroe and Burcham recommendations are due in part to declining enrollment. LBUSD now enrolls 81,000 students, down more than 16,000 from the peak enrollment in 2002. Declining enrollment exacerbates budget woes because schools receive most of their funding based on student attendance.
Staff also is recommending the latest consolidation in part because the school district is likely to eliminate its remaining K-8 transportation services, and because both Monroe and Burcham have relatively small numbers of neighborhood students. 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, thus the recommendation to eliminate those grade levels. Before making such recommendations, school district staff also examines the ability of nearby schools to absorb the students from a closed school or grade level.
The school district has continually examined the closure and consolidation of smaller schools in recent years to help maintain its fiscal solvency, improve efficiency and save funds to maintain high quality programs. In 2008, Tucker Elementary School merged with MacArthur Elementary School. In 2010, DeMille Middle School closed to make way for the brand new McBride High School scheduled to open next fall. In 2011, Burroughs and Buffum elementary schools closed. Keller Elementary School closed after last school year and is now accommodating Newcomb K-8 students while their campus is rebuilt. Butler Middle School’s students transferred to the new Nelson Academy in Signal Hill this school year, allowing Butler to be used by Roosevelt Elementary School students while their campus is rebuilt.
Monroe may be used by the school district for other purposes, such as office space, allowing LBUSD to close offices elsewhere, though no formal recommendation or decision has been made on the site’s potential reuse.
The Monroe closure would save about $2.7 million, and the Burcham consolidation would save roughly $800,000.
Once the school board takes action, parent meetings would be scheduled to present specific information about student placement and related questions.
Monroe, which is located at 4400 Ladoga Ave. in Lakewood, opened in 1953. Burcham, which is located at 5610 Monlaco Ave. in Long Beach, opened in 1950.