School Closures Affect Gold Canyon and Apache Junction Arizona

Thunder Mountain Middle School in Apache Junction and Gold Canyon Elementary School will be closed after this school year. The governing board for the Apache Junction Unified School District voted unanimously in late Feb 2009 to close both of these schools.

The board also voted to reconfigure the grades at its remaining schools. The four remaining elementary schools will go from kindergarten through fifth grade to kindergarten through sixth grade. The remaining middle school will convert to a junior high school for seventh- and eighth-graders.

If you are planning to buy a home, double check with the school district where you plan to buy to determine the status of the schools if you have children affected.

Declining enrollment as well as tough economic times have brought about these closures.  The district lost about 5 percent of its students from the 2008-09 school year to the current school year. Next year’s projects are still being worked on.

The closings will affect about two-thirds of Thunder Mountain’s current enrollment of 630 students because the eighth-graders are moving to the high school next year. Gold Canyon currently has 333 students.

The district will redraw boundaries for all elementary and middle schools.

Plans include for the high school to also undergo a change, creating more “professional learning communities” — schools within schools — and adding a project-based learning curriculum, in which students take what they’re learning and create written reports, digital presentations, oral reports or multimedia projects.

These closures will affect teachers as well. The the district will lose about 40 teachers through a reduction in force. The district says it hopes to let teachers know by mid-April.

Several other Arizona school districts are planning to close schools next school year in light of an economic crisis, and Apache Junction School District is just another of the districts with financial issues.

Also in the East Phoenix Valley, the Mesa Unified School District’s governing board voted in January to close Powell Junior High School and reconfigure the curriculum at Alma Elementary School. The district will also put Hendrix Junior High and Frost Elementary School under one administration and turn it into an International Baccalaureate academy. In addition, Mesa will add ninth-graders to all of its high schools in the next two years.

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