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San Jose Middle Schools Set To Close Because of Dwindling Enrollment

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- Two long-time middle schools in San Jose are closing, part of a campus consolidation in the Alum Rock School District.

The Board of Trustees voted to close Lee Mathson and Clyde Fischer Middle Schools by August of 2021. The district says it must close those schools and possibly others in the future because it's projecting a 50% drop in student enrollment within the next few years.

"When I started here 5 years ago, we were roughly 350 students. This year I'm at 230, 240 enrolled," said Vince Iwasaki, Principal at Mathson.

"This was a very difficult decision," said Dr. Hilaria Bauer, district Superintendent.

Bauer said the district is in a precarious financial situation. Federal and state emergency funds helped keep the district afloat, but savings must be made, and closing the two schools will shave $700,000 off the budget per year.

Since both schools operate on the same campuses with higher-performing Rennaissance Academy schools - which are staying open - Mathson and Fischer students can merge into Renaissance, so families won't have to change school sites.

"For us, it's important to provide a high-quality program for all of our students," Bauer said.

Families we spoke with were disappointed but accepted the difficult situation.

"It's kind of sad because my son has been a student for a long time here," said parent Jesus Duran.

"I think it's quite a bummer but I could see it. I mean if there's not enough cash, they can't keep it open or else it would be a disaster," said Mathson 8th grader Andrew Duran.

The enrollment decline is getting even more dramatic this spring, with many students still attending online classes, even though their families have already moved to less expensive areas, according to Mr. Iwasaki.

"I've got one in Washington State, one in Kentucky, one in Mexico. They've moved for economic reasons, they might come back but whether they'll actually be able to do that, we're not sure," he said.

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