Alum Rock Sup. recommends closing Pala Middle

December 11, 2009 1:07:55 AM PST
There was a big blow on Thursday to students, teachers, and parents in the South Bay. Officials voted to shut down a school because of budget problems. It was a tough decision, obviously, but there are others.

Parents, teachers, and students are not quietly standing by while the Alum Rock Union Elementary School Board considers some strong steps to save money.

The focus is on Pala Middle School. The superintendant suggested it and four other schools close. Thursday, the superintendant made his final recommendation.

"It is with regret that I recommend to the board the closure of Pala Middle School," said superintendent Jose Manzo.

Closing Pala and increasing class sizes for lower grade students, as the districts' first interim financial report suggests, could save the district $11.5 million. It's money that's missing because of the state's budget crisis.

"The district hasn't made the cuts in all the areas away from the class room that need to be cut before they make significant classroom cuts," said Marc Shaw from the Alum Rock Educators Association.

The district is also considering increasing class sizes from its current, 20:1 ratio, to 25:1.

"The fact that they're increasing the class size means a lot of teachers are going to be let go," said teacher Sandra Rivera.

"It's kind of scary, we all have a knot in our stomachs trying to figure out what's going to happen," said teacher Monique Markoff.

While teachers continue to worry about their jobs, Pala students worry about the message this is all sending.

"By closing Pala it shows you've given up on us students. This ideas is very discouraging and upsetting," said Pala Middle School student Daniela Zopiyactle.

"It's just sad to everyone," said Pala Middle School student David Aguilar.

In the end, the board voted to close Pala Middle School, but the meeting continued late into the night since the issue of student to teacher ratios was still unsettled.

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