Inglewood district considers closing schools to save money

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By 2UrbanGirls

Contributing Writer

INGLEWOOD — The Inglewood Unified School District has assembled a seven-member committee to assist with identifying schools for possible closure to save money on modernization costs.

The committee is comprised of parents, teachers, and community leaders within the business community who are eager to see IUSD succeed.

“The district continues to experience declining student enrollment due to low birth rates and the number of school aged children that reside within the district’s boundaries,” said Janette Gomez, the district’s senior executive director of fiscal services. “Additionally, the number of charter schools in operation both within and outside of our district boundaries, have a direct and profound impact on our enrollment numbers.”

The district was placed under state conservatorship at the start of the 2012-13 school year. Since then, district enrollment has dropped more than 33%, from 12,119 students in 2012 to 7,944 at the start of the 2021-22 school year.

“This consistent decline in enrollment is projected to continue over the next three years with an additional loss of 1,131 students,” Gomez said. “However, the rate of decline will slow as compared to prior years.”

The committee met Jan. 13 and continued discussions on what schools would be considered for closure and consolidation.

Assisting the district with the effort is Total School Solutions, an educational consultant firm based in Fairfield, California, that offers comprehensive services in budget and finance, facilities and planning and other issues related to education.

Preliminary recommendations call for closing two schools in the northern part of the district, one in the western sector and two in the eastern region.

The northern region consists of Centinela, Parent, Highland and LaTijera schools that have a combined enrollment of 2,668 students, with modernization costs of $62.7 million. Two of the schools are being recommended for closure.

Centinela, Parent  and LaTijera serve kindergarten through eighth grade and Highland serves kindergarten through sixth grade

Highland was built in 1937 and has the lowest enrollment of 720 students, and is projected to drop to 384 by 2024. Centinela was built in 1952 with current enrollment at 1,020 and projected to drop 50% to 550 in 2024.

The west region includes Payne, Hudnall, Kelso and Oak Street schools. They have a combined enrollment of 2,510 with total modernization costs of $34.5 million. One school is being recommended for closure. Oak Street currently has 448 students and projects to have 444 in 2024.

Kelso and Hudnall serve kindergarten through sixth grade students and Payne and Oak Street serve kindergarten through eighth grade students.

The east region includes Bennet-Kew, Warren Lane, Woodworth-Monroe and Worthington schools. They have a combined enrollment of 3,502 with total modernization costs of $49.9 million. Warran Lane has the lowest enrollment with 540 students, projected to fall to 132 in 2024. Bennett-Kew follows with 780 students, expected to fall to 465 by 2024. Two schools are recommended for closure.

The committee has listed the two priority schools for closure as Warren Lane and Worthington, which would save the district close to $20 million in modernization costs.

2UrbanGirls reached out to members of the advisory board, but they are not authorized to speak on district matters in an official capacity.

The district is approaching 10 years under state receivership and needs to pay the state back $55 million to regain local control of the district.

As of Nov. 1, 2021, the balance due is reportedly $22.3 million.

The amortization schedule details the loan would be fully paid off by 2034 making annual payments of approximately $2 million with a balloon payments in 2034 when the loan is expected to be fully paid back.

That would put the district in receivership for another 12 years

The consolidation/closure committee has not indicated whether the cost savings on school closures would result in those funds being used to pay down the loan prior to 2034.

Residents can find previous committee meeting agenda, minutes, and videos by visiting the district’s website at https://www.inglewoodusd.com/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=1531273&type=d&pREC_ID=2195894.

2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood areas. She can be reached at 2urbangirls@gmail.com.

 

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