Gilbert Public Schools considers closing Houston Elementary, moving Neely Traditional Academy

Jason Martin
Jason Martin, elementary education executive director for Gilbert Public Schools, tells the governing board March 2 about a proposal to close Houston Elementary School and move Neely Traditional Academy to the Houston campus. (Screen capture from YouTube)

Jason Martin, elementary education executive director for Gilbert Public Schools, tells the governing board March 2 about a proposal to close Houston Elementary School and move Neely Traditional Academy to the Houston campus. (Screen capture from YouTube)

The Gilbert Public Schools governing board studied at its March 2 meeting the effects of school changes for the fall that would close one school and move another into its campus.

Under the proposal, intended to help the district manage enrollment in the western portion of the district, Houston Elementary School would close, and Neely Traditional Academy, which has no school boundaries, would move onto the Houston campus.

Additionally, Burk Elementary School’s boundary would grow to encompass the current Houston boundary. Current Houston students would get the choice to attend Burk or Neely, and staff would get priority on openings at those schools and for other district openings, Elementary Education Executive Director Jason Martin said. All would be guaranteed employment in the district.

The board could vote on the proposal at its March 30 board business meeting.

Neely’s enrollment had been mostly stable before COVID-19, but Burk and Houston had declining enrollment before the pandemic, dating back 15 years, according to the district presentation.


Martin said Burk had the capacity to take the Houston students, and that Houston, the largest facility in the district’s western portion, was the only campus big enough to house Neely, which has an aging facility that needs about $3 million in investments over five years without adding more classrooms.

Additionally, Martin said Neely has waiting lists at some grade levels, not enough bathrooms for its size and no ability to offer a prekindergarten program, issues the move could address.

Students from Houston would get the ability to bus to Burk if they live more than a mile from that campus, Martin said. The district is meeting with the town of Gilbert to mitigate other traffic concerns.

The district first notified employees of the proposed changes in early February and have since held some meetings with community members. Martin said the feedback from the community was mostly positive.

One question community members asked was what the name would be as Neely moves campuses, but the decision has not been made, Martin said.

However, Superintendent Shane McCord, a former principal at Houston, said he did not favor a different name with so many other changes happening and with the Neely name being well-recognized in the traditional academy community.

McCord suggested Houston’s history could be honored in other ways, and Martin said a space on the campus would preserve that.
By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.



MOST RECENT

Now open sign
Three salons now open in Gilbert

Here are three salons that have opened recently in Gilbert.

Gilbert sold home and real estate data
Gilbert riding strong seller’s market

The Gilbert residential real estate market has mirrored the trends around much of the nation as sales prices soared in the winter and early spring, local data shows.

Buono's Pizza Gilbert serves New York-style pizza. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
Buono’s Pizza Gilbert opens; low inventory leads to rising home prices in Chandler and more top area news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Chandler and Gilbert areas.

Higley USD District Office
Former Higley USD Superintendent Denise Birdwell, local contractor employees indicted relating to construction projects

Criminal indictments have been issued against a former Higley USD superintendent and three other people who are being charged with financial crimes, according to the State Auditor General’s Office.

Cafe Rio Mexican Grill
Cafe Rio has opened second location in Gilbert in past three months

The restaurant serves made-from-scratch Mexican food with fresh ingredients

School crosswalk with crossing guard and two students
Drivers reminded to slow down in school zones as students return

Gilbert has 58 public schools in the three districts that serve the town, with all of them having designated school crossings

Dawn Foley
Initial Higley USD test scores higher than state averages

The data was presented at the district’s initial board meeting for fiscal year 2021-22, the first meeting under which Dawn Foley is the district’s permanent superintendent.

Campus ushers in new era for Arizona College Prep High School

July 21 marks the start of the school year and the opening of Arizona College Prep High School—the district’s newest campus—which will house the Arizona College Prep students and staff in a state-of-the-art high school facility

Q&A: Chandler USD interim superintendent shares goals for district ahead of school year

Chandler USD interim superintendent Frank Narducci answers Community Impact Newspaper's questions ahead of the start of the school year July 21.

recycling bins
Gilbert launches expansion of recycling pilot program

Gilbert is asking residents to only put four types of items into recycling bins for collection: plastic bottles, jugs and jars; metal food and beverage containers; paper; and flattened cardboard.

The freeway expansion project will occur across 11 miles of east- and westbound I-19 between Loop 202 and I-17, including the Broadway Curve between Baseline Road and 40th Street. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
Work to begin on I-10 Broadway Curve project July 23

The first phase of work for the Arizona Department of Transportation’s I-10 Broadway Curve improvement project is set to begin late July 23 with a weekend closure of westbound I-10.

An ice cream shop, a restaurant with a gaming twist and more are coming soon to Chandler. (Community Impact Newspaper)
6 businesses coming to Chandler; sushi shop opens in Gilbert and more Phoenix-area news

Read the latest business and community events from the Chandler and Gilbert areas.