Low enrollment at Azusa School spurs domino effect as Central School, Slauson Middle School and Foothill Middle School will now integrate

AZUSA, Calif. (KABC) — Declining enrollment at an Azusa high school is causing a domino effect. The impending changes are hitting the community hard.

Joan Hemrick, a special education teacher’s aide, is heartbroken. Founded in 1964, Gladstone High School is closing.

“We’ve all been a great community here, so it’s just really sad,” Hemrick said.

She and other educators, along with all students, will move to Azusa High School for the 2023-24 school year in light of declining enrollment.

“I’ve been at the school for over 20 years. I’ve loved working with the teachers here,” Hemrick said. “So yeah, I’m going to be sad. It’s going to be hard for our visually impaired kids to make the switch because the campground, the other school’s campus has much harder hallways for them to walk through.”

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Gladstone High School becomes Gladstone Middle School, welcoming students from three colleges scheduled to close: Center School, Slauson Middle School and Foothill Middle School.

“I understand enrollment is down and I know they’re just working with numbers,” Hemrick said.

Azusa Unified School District Superintendent Arturo Ortega attributes the rapid decline in enrollment in recent years to the state’s declining birth rate and soaring housing prices that are pushing more and more people to leave the state.

“The state is down in enrollment, the state of California, especially here in the Valley,” Ortega said.

He says the district has been forced to make tough decisions to maximize resources.

“When we look at the programs we are able to offer our students and the facilities we are able to offer our students, coupled with the drop in enrollment, it was a decision to make sure that we offer top-notch programs, and top-notch facilities for our students, Ortega said.

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