On neighborhood schools and school closures

I was stunned yesterday to discover that my local school, Sewell Elementary, is on the TUSD (Tucson Unified School District) closure list. Stunned partly because no one wants to see their community school close–I watch kids and families walk to this school every day, and so I know just how strong a part of the surrounding community Sewell is–and also stunned because this is one of the district’s more successful schools, and so choosing it for closure just doesn’t make any sense, and does the entire district a disservice.

Sewell is also in a part of the city where, within a five mile radius, several other neighborhood elementary schools have closed already.

If you’re a Tucsonan who cares about this and would like to see Sewell (or any of the schools on the closure list) stay open, TUSD has a form for comments here. (I also sent copies of my comments to my state legislators, because the budget problems that put closing Sewell on the table began at the state level.)

No matter where you live, if you’re up for doing something more concrete, there’s also a campaign to raise $50,000 to secure permanent portables and so increase the school’s capacity. This won’t guarantee Sewell stays open (and funds will go to a local literacy charity if it doesn’t), but it will improve the school’s chances.

Thanks for listening. For now, I’m remaining hopeful that if enough people speak up, the district will reconsider.

The least we can do is try, for the sake of our community and our city.

Janni Lee Simner

About Janni Lee Simner

Janni Lee Simner is the author of the post-apocalyptic Bones of Faerie trilogy and the contemporary fantasy Thief Eyes, as well as four books for younger children, more than 30 short stories, and the script for the video game The Huntsman: Winter’s Curse. Check out her Writing Life Series for practical tools to hone your writing craft and unlock your creative power or join her email list for ongoing updates here.
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