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GPISD Looks At Closing School For Budget

By Stephanie Lucero, CBS 11 News
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A student in math class. (credit: Getty Images/Christopher Furlong)

A student in math class. (credit: Getty Images/Christopher Furlong)

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GRAND PRAIRIE (CBSDFW.COM) - A battle over an elementary school has parents promising to protest in Grand Prairie.

The Grand Prairie Independent School District is considering the idea of closing one of its elementary schools, and some parents say they will fight to keep it open.

Due to drastic cuts in State funding, administrators are considering closing John Garner Elementary School after this school year.  Doing so would cut $1.5 million from the district’s budget officials say.

Administrators also say the building could generate money if it’s turned into a day care center or a Montessori school.

“I realize they’re trying to generate income but I just hate to see our children suffer” says Danika Leeks, the mother of a kindergarten student.  Leeks says her son is thriving at the school, which is rated “exemplary” by the state.  “He has done phenomenal there.”

Grand Prairie ISD officials say the State has notified them that between $15 million and $26 million could be cut in the next budget.  The district’s current maintenance and operating budget is $185 million.

In a press release Monday, Director of Communications Sam Buchmeyer said “The GPISD Board of Trustees has been preparing for the potential of a catastrophic occurrence in Texas school finance since 2007-2008.”

The school district is currently offering teachers money if they give a “notice of intent to resign or retire.” But they have only a few days to decide.

“All staff who know they will not return for the 2011-2012 school year will receive a $200 payment  . . . and Retire/rehire staff who notifies GPISD by Friday, February 18, 2011, will receive a $10,000 payment.

Staff with 30+ years and who are eligible to retire, who provide information of intent to retire by February 21, 2011, will receive a $10,000 payment” according to the release.

Buchmeyer also told CBS 11 the school district is considering cutting a number of programs.  In administration, a deputy superintendent who is leaving will not be replaced.  Other cuts could come by laying off technology facilitators, librarians, providing the Gifted and Talented program in student’s home rooms and the district is considering cuts in Special Education Inclusion teachers.

“If we find something district-wide, that could offset saving $1.5 million and we could find another plan, other things to do with that school, it possibly could be that we could leave the school open” says Buchmeyer.

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