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Parents hope son’s school will not be among possible closures in Salt Lake

Jul 14, 2023, 1:00 PM | Updated: 2:06 pm

SALT LAKE CITYSeveral schools across the state are facing potential closure, pending study. 

Earlier this week, the Salt Lake City School District released seven schools that are on the list.

‘Right-sized schools’: Salt Lake board hears recommendations for school closures

There are a lot of questions in the air for families, including what that means for their students and where they would attend if their school closed.

Right now, nothing is finalized. That does not mean there is not a lot of thinking on either side.

“This was just a recommendation. There was no vote. We won’t know a final decision until December — or at the latest, January — so we still have a ways to go,” said Yándary Chatwin, executive director of communications and community relations for the Salt Lake City School District. 

In August, the school board will come back together for the opportunity to take a vote on whether they want to approve that recommendation.

From there, there will be multiple chances for the public to weigh in. So far, there has been a range of input.

“We’ve already gotten over 600 comments and we want more,” Chatwin said. 

A main reason for this conversation in the first place goes back to enrollment, which, the district said, has seen a big decline over the last decade.

“From about 13,000 kids in 2014 to just over 9,600 last fall. That’s like a 30% drop,” Chatwin said. “We’ve lost a third of our kids in elementary school.”

They may have lost a third, but the district has also gained students and families during that timeframe.

“They did so much for him,” said Manuel Escobar, who moved with his family from Russia a couple years ago. 

His son, Taron, had his first schooling experience in America at Wasatch Elementary — one of the schools now on the list for potential closure.

“Yes, I liked the school,” Taron said.

Taron’s time at Wasatch Elementary came with a lot of firsts, including his first time learning inside a classroom on his own.

“He is on the spectrum. He has autism, and that school made his first experience in the school the most amazing experience for him,” Escobar said. 

Their family’s positive schooling experience is something they want others to enjoy.

“That school is a piece of heaven on earth,” Escobar said. “I hope that school doesn’t close.”

The district said their main goal is to make sure they can “right size” their schools.

“When I say ‘right sizing,’ it’s looking at research, at data, at evidence-based models of learning nationally, and see how we can bring those best practices here,” Chatwin said.

Chatwin said why student numbers may be going down in the district could be a number of things.

“I think societally, we just aren’t having as many kids as we used to. Our population is aging, and, where, specifically in the city, we need to take a look at housing. Housing prices have increased,” Chatwin said.

The district said change could come as early as next fall, in August 2024.

To learn more about how you can weigh in, you are encouraged to visit the district’s website.

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Parents hope son’s school will not be among possible closures in Salt Lake