Long Beach Unified School District staff proposed this week that the Board of Education close Keller Elementary School at the end of this school year, transferring the students to nearby Burcham K-8 School next fall. Keller would then temporarily accommodate students and staff from Newcomb K-8 School while Newcomb is completely rebuilt.
School district staff also recommended that Roosevelt students be transferred to Butler Middle School next school year while Roosevelt is completely rebuilt. Butler students would instead attend the brand new Nelson Middle School that is nearing completion at 20th Street and Cherry Avenue in Signal Hill.
The new Roosevelt campus is targeted for completion in January 2015. Meanwhile the Butler campus is being considered for re-use as a small high school, though no formal recommendation has been made by staff to the school board.
No final action was taken by the school board during this week’s public workshop that contained agenda items for information only. Final decisions on these matters may occur on either the Dec. 6 or Dec. 20 school board meetings.
The Newcomb, Roosevelt and Nelson projects are being funded with Measure K school bonds that local voters approved in 2008. Such funds can be used only for school construction and renovation. Among the reasons LBUSD is focusing on Newcomb is that the school is on the state's priority list of campuses that need to be rebuilt or retrofitted to meet modern seismic safety standards. Roosevelt is an aging campus that originally opened in 1921.
Keller now has about 360 students in grades K-5, making it one of the smallest schools in the district. LBUSD staff continues to examine the consolidation of small schools to save money.
“Unfortunately, the state budget continues to worsen, and LBUSD must find additional ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency,” LBUSD Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser said. He told the school board that districtwide enrollment has dropped by more than 14,000 students since 2002, requiring district planners to make sure that school facilities are being used wisely.
As part of staff’s recommendation, students who live within the current Keller boundary will be offered the opportunity to continue attending Keller while it houses Newcomb K-8 students until Newcomb reopens in fall 2015. Fewer than 80 of Keller’s students live in the Keller neighborhood. The remainder come from elsewhere in the school district. Because Keller is not at capacity, it can accommodate the larger Newcomb population, though the school district may need to temporarily add as many as eight portable classrooms to the Keller campus.
The latest recommendations are part of the school district’s implementation of its Facility Master Plan, which was developed after more than a year of meetings and other collaboration with residents throughout the school district.