School district considers closing down Salt Lake elementary school, parents not happy with idea

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Salt Lake City School District is considering closing M. Lynn Bennion Elementary School due to a drop in the number of students that are in attendance.

“We have an enrollment this year of 213 students. That enrollment is expected to go down,” said Yándary Chatwin, a spokeswoman for the Salt Lake City School District.

The school houses roughly a third as many students as the largest elementary in the district. Due to the cost of operating the school for such a small number of students, a committee recommended to the school board members they consider re-drawing school boundaries to make it possible to close the school.

“It’s not just about the money, but also the distribution of teachers in our district. For the coming year we’re actually anticipated to have 18 fewer teachers that means we’ll have to spread students out a little differently,” said Chatwin.

But for the parents, whose children go to the school, the teachers who lead the classrooms and the alumni who share fond memories, the thought of closing is painful. Many of them attended a school board meeting Tuesday night to encourage the district to keep the school doors open.

“Ms. Lopez, Ms. Maynard, Ms. Evans, Ms. Lee, Ms. Bevins, Mr. Munoz, Ms. Cummins. They were my teachers from kindergarten through sixth grade. Why do I remember those names, because each one of those names has been a hero to me,” said Curtis Dorsey-Maestas, an alumni.

“My kids are asking me, why do we have to leave our school mom. We like it there,” said Margaret Blackbear, a parent. “This school is within walking for this community. Now you’re talking about separating our community.”

The school board did not make a decision on whether or not to close the school. Instead, it will wait for more public input on the impacts a potential closure would have.

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