DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Not only was Thursday the last days of class for students at nine elementary schools in the Dallas Independent School District, but it was also the last day the campuses will exist.
DISD is shutting the doors of the schools for good.
Administrators say the closings will be a boost to the district’s budget, but some parents say the decision will negatively affect students.
James B. Bonham Elementary is one of the campuses closing. The school, which only has students up to the 3rd grade, has consistently been listed as “exemplary”.
The 88-year-old school has taught generations of students and today when the final bell rang, students, alumni, parents and teachers showed up for closing ceremonies.
At the school on Thursday most parents said they were sad to see it closing, because of the family atmosphere and excellent education offered.
But one mother was also upset with the Dallas school system and said she plans to move her child to another district.
“It’s very sad that they’re putting commerce in front of children and ya know money in front of children,” she said. This is an exemplary school. Why wouldn’t they keep it open?”
Another man said Bonham had been a part of family for generations.
“We’ve been here for a long time with the kids, with my own kids too and now with the grand kids,” he said. “I wish they couldn’t close it, but what can we do?”
As a part of the final day of school operations members of the community and Bonham alumni were invited to attend.
Mark Barnes visited Bohnam Elementary for the last time, before the doors closed for good.
“Brings back a lot of memories,” he said.
Meanwhile, employees like Olga Oliva packed their belongings. Oliva, affectionately known as the matriarch of the school, says she’ll have to find a new “second home.” She’s been a teachers aide at Bohnam Elementary for more than 30 years.
“Once I leave home, this is home to me because the children are here, so I prented to be like a mother to those kids,” she said.
During the ceremony, teachers expressed their frustration with the school’s closure.
“We’re a family here and it’s hard that politics breaks up families,” said one teacher.
Many frustrated parents and teachers resigned to the inevitable and wanted to focus on the positives.
“The teachers taught and the students learned and the community was involved and the parents cared. I was experiencing education at it’s best,” said Principal Sandra Fernandez.
Employees said goodbye through tears.
In the end, 2 alumni brought down the American flag and removed it, to dignify the end of an era, and a new beginning for hundreds of children.
The other elementary schools being closed and consolidated include:
City Park Elementary
Julia C. Frazier Elementary
Phillis Wheatley Elementary
N.W. Harllee Elementary
Arlington Park Elementary
James W. Fannin Elementary
Oran M. Roberts Elementary
H.S. Thompson Elementary
The campus of D.A. Hulcy Middle School will also close today and the doors of Pearl C. Anderson Middle School will be shuttered next year.
Dallas ISD officials say closing the schools, all of which have low enrollment, will save the district more than $11 million in administrative, utility and maintenance costs.
As the nearly one dozen Dallas ISD schools prepared to close their doors for the last time, the district was breaking ground on one of eight new elementary schools.
The district is also set to build four new middle schools, two new high schools and renovate more than 200 schools.
A $1.35 billion bond, approved by voters in 2008, is being used to finance the new schools, campus renovations and updates.