Marana’s Thornydale Elementary School is being considered for closure once again

Just months after being spared from closure, Marana School District’s Thornydale Elementary is once again on the chopping block. 

The Marana Governing Board is holding a public meeting to consider closing the K-6 campus, at 7651 N. Old Father Drive, citing continued declining enrollment and a need for fiscal responsibility. 

Over the past several years, enrollment at the northwest side school designed to serve about 600 student has declined, going from 733 children in 1994 to just 306 this school year. 

The Marana School District attributes the consistent decline in enrollment to the neighborhood having matured, resulting in fewer elementary school students in the area. Additionally, no new homes are projected to be built in the future that would contribute to growth in the Thornydale area.

“In keeping with good fiscal responsibility the District acknowledges that school district budget revenues are solely generated on a per pupil basis; therefore school enrollment is vitally important to the sustainability of a school,” the district said in a news release.

Thornydale parents were made aware of the consideration via a letter on Friday, Nov. 9.

The meeting will be held on Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. in the Thornydale cafeteria to hear reasons for or against the closure. That would be followed by a Dec. 6 meeting for a formal vote at 7 p.m. at the Marana Municipal Complex, 11555 W. Civic Drive. Should the district move forward with the closure, Thornydale students could be assigned to attend either Quail Run or Butterfield elementary schools next school year. 

Those unable to attend the meetings can provide input by emailing musd6@maranausd.org or utilizing the district’s “Let’s Talk” communication tool at maranausd.org.

In April, the Marana Governing Board appeared to be on the verge of shuttering the nearly 50-year-old school, voting 3-1 for closure. 

However, a minute later, after a crowd of parents erupted, shouting “vote them out,” Board Member Suzanne Hopkins, who seconded the closure motion, mumbled something to her colleagues inaudible to the audience and the motion to close the school was declared dead.   

Governing Board member Dan Post argued against the closure at the time, saying the district didn’t have a plan for what to do with the campus and he thought that if given a chance, the school might be able to increase enrollment. He argued the aging neighborhood is turning around, new families are moving in, and the school should be given a two-year period to get its numbers up.

Governing Board members Tom Carlson and Maribel Lopez voted to close the school at the time. Board member John Lewandowski was absent.

Both Carlson and Lewandowski garnered enough votes in Tuesday’s general election to retain their open governing board seats, defeating challenger Mark Neish.

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