Arlington school superintendent Larry Cuban has recommended closing two Arlington junior high schools by September, 1978, announcing one expected and one unexpected choice of schools.
Cuban told the school board Monday night that he believes Stratford Junior High School on North Vacation Lane and Gunston Junior High School on South Lang Street should be closed to help meet the problem of declining school enrollment.
Stratford has long been discussed for closing, but news of the decision to recommend closing Gunston came as a surprise. Principal Boyd Webb said he was informed the morning the recommendation was made and that he informed staff later that day. Reaction from parents and students had not really emerged yet, he said. "They're just now hearing it or reading it," said Webb.
A school board work session involving a discussion of the closings has been set for June 7 at 7:30 p.m. with a public hearing set for June 9 at 8 p.m. A final decision on the closings is expected by June 28. Board members have said that the rapid timetable is to allow for adequate time for planning.
The decision to close two schools at the beginning of the 1978 school year follows a school board decision in December to move the ninth grade from the county's six junior high schools into the high schools to supplement declining pupil enrollments there. Intermediate school programs will be developed for the seventh and eighth grades.
School enrollment in Arlington has declined from a peak of 26,927 in 1963-1964 to 19.169 this school year. New enrollment projections are so much lower that without closing the schools most of the six junior high schools would be operating below the school board's minimum enrollment requirement of 500 popils by 1980.[TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] Monday night, talking not about closing schools but styling his announcement as a decision on which schools to keep open.
"Since I value the kind of facilities available to an intermediate school - that is, the media center, the labs, the auditoriums, etc., more than boundary configurations, acreage and other of these considerations, I recommend that Swanson, Kenmore. Thomas Jefferson and Williamsburg" remain open, Cuban said in a report to the board.
"I know declining enrollment is a problem regarding Gunston," said Gunston principal Boyd Webb. "It has been a problem for years." On the other hand, he said, "it's one of the better maintained schools in the county, regarding equipment, grounds and so forth . . . I think it is the best physical plant," he said.