The Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education voted unanimously last night to close Beach High School at the end of this school year.
Beach is a specialty high school for sophomores who failed too many classes in their freshman year at one of the district’s other campuses. It has just 37 students enrolled this year.
“We’ve been looking at systems to be cost efficient, and we have 37 sophomores at Beach, with less and less attending it throughout the years because of other systems in place,” said LBUSD high school superintendent Jay Camerino in a presentation to the board.
When Beach opened in 2011, the goal was to pull kids off of other campuses after a rough start to their high school career either with bad grades or a poor attendance record. The purpose of the school was to give them the opportunity to recover credits then return to other campuses. The school reached a peak of 224 students in its second year of existence, but enrollment has been falling steadily since then.
Camerino said that’s in large part because of increased interventions on other campuses and the use of “linked learning” practices to create smaller campus communities within its larger high schools.
“We know that we can get those freshmen to stay on track,” said Camerino. “After one year in school, to send them off to an alternative ed high school—as great as it is—we know that most of them don’t return to their main campus.”
The school lists 13 staff members on its website. Teachers on campus argue that the school’s specialty is going to be needed more than ever. Lara Robinson, the school’s science department head, said the closure is coming at the worst possible time given the spike in failing grades occurring during distance learning.
“Despite declining enrollment, (Beach) will be desperately needed for the 21-22 school year,” said Robinson. “Failure rates have exploded this school year. … We are uniquely positioned to help students recover credit and inspire a love of learning. The system failed them, and distance learning failed them.”
Camerino expressed confidence that the school district’s shift to on-campus interventions for struggling students will be sufficient to help deal with learning loss in this school year and pointed out that the district still has Reid High and Educational Partnership High School as alternative education options for students who need more attention.
“We want to hold onto our students as much as possible and provide support and interventions on campus on our traditional campuses as much as possible,” said Camerino.
The 37 students at Beach High will be placed onto other campuses in the Fall. This is the second time in three months the district has curtailed an educational option in part due to cost concerns after it shut down middle school offerings at some of its K-8 schools in December.