MONTEREY, Calif. (KION) Two elementary schools and one middle school will be closing their doors in the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District in the near future.
It's not by choice, according to the district. Instead, the closures are a forced decision given the district's declining student enrollment. As a result, Highland and Foothill elementary schools, and Walter Colton Middle School will be moving their students to other area schools in the future.
Hilda Coleman, known as "Mother Coleman" in the community, has lived near Highland Elementary for a number of decades. She has had six children that attended the school. While the closure is something that has been discussed in the past, people never thought the day would arrive.
"It just took me by surprise. You know they have said that before. They had said that several times of closing but they didn't, Highland School. And now we're not thinking about it closing now. I guess it's going to be a reality," said Hilda Coleman.
According to the district, both Highland and Foothill will close in the 2022-2023 academic school year. Meanwhile, Walter Colton Middle School will close in what would be the 2023-2024 academic school year. Children will be allocated to existing schools in redrawn school boundaries. The District released this statement to try and answer questions parents may have:
One former Highland student says the closer the school, the better.
"I just don't like to hear they're trying to close down the school that benefits these apartments. It benefits parents who may be single parents and they may have just only one parent in the household and if they have to go to work early, it's easier for their son to wakeup, get some cereal, and run right across the street," said Mohammad Ali, former Highland Elementary student.
The closures are a direct result of declining enrollment over the last ten years. Highland and Foothill have faced low enrollment numbers, with less than 300 each. The overall average enrollment for MPUSD Elementary School is 367. Still, some parents we spoke with with children in the schools say they have concerns about where their children will end up and how they will get to their new school. While others understand the move.
Tevin Caros, a former Highland student tells KION, a closure like this is disappointing.
"It's a school for everybody that was around here. It's the closest school. You just had to walk across the street and now everyone has to drive or walk even farther and some people don't have a car," said Tevin Caros, a former Highland student.
The district has yet to determine the new school boundaries.