Somber ASD townhall for possible closure of Abbott Loop Elementary
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A group of students, parents, and teachers gathered on Monday night at Abbott Loop Elementary to hear about the possible closure of their school.
“We appreciate that schools are the heart and soul of the community for the staff, for the parents, for the kids, the relationships that have been built,” Anchorage School District Chief Financial Officer Jim Anderson said. “So when we talk about numbers whether it’s dollars or numbers of students we’re not making light of the amazing thing that happen here at Abbott Loop every day.”
The meeting was the fifth of six town halls held by ASD concerning the potential closures. Anderson said he recognizes that many kids wake up excited to come to their school each day.
Consultant Shannon Bingham, on the other hand, said Abbott Loop has been a candidate for demolition for the past five years. This, he says, is mainly because of the condition of the building. Additionally, in the fall of this year, there were only 268 students.
If Abbott Loop did close, students that are north of East 88th Avenue would likely to move to Kasuun Elementary School on 68th Avenue, while those south of East 88th Avenue would move to Trailside Elementary on Abbott Road.
Parents and teachers voiced their concerns to the district, saying they are having to emotionally prepare for the school to close.
“I can bounce back, but I think these kids and their families may not be able to do so as easily, and this is why I’m here and invested in this process,” said Christine Butler-Bryant, a teacher at Abbott Loop.
There were many questions, mainly, from parents and teachers wanting assurance that title one students who attend Abbott Loop will not be negatively impacted when transferred to another school.
“I know you guys don’t have all these answers but you need them before you start gutting a school and the school community just to save a few million dollars. You’re going to leave students behind and potentially even unsafe during the summer if not,” said Rick Whitbeck, who’s a parent of a second grader at Abbott Loop and a part of the PTA.
“Regardless the condition of this building, it’s personal, we are a family. We’re a community, a school community who works together. I look forward to seeing the students I had last year, in the hallway. I look forward to coming to work every single day and working with my staff,” said Sana Cain, a first grade teacher at Abbott Loop Elementary.
There is only one ASD town hall left, which will be held on the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 22nd, at Wonder Park Elementary. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
ASD says it expects to reach a final decision next month about which, if any, of the six schools under consideration for closure will be shut down. December is also when the district says it expects to share a final plan for a path forward.
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