POMONA - More than 150 parents of students at Montvue Elementary School got it straight from the top - the campus may close at the end of school in June.

Pomona Unified Superintendent Richard Martinez told them at a gathering on campus on Wednesday evening that a recommendation to close the campus is expected to go to the district board on March 5.

"This is not an easy task to stand up here and talk about closing a school," he said.

Neither was it for parents such as Odessa Vazquez-Downing, who said the school has made academic advances. Teachers and administrators have helped plant the seed of going to college among the students, she said.

"It just seems like such a setback," she said.

If the closure is approved, the approximately 300 kindergarten through sixth-grade students would be transferred to nearby Kingsley or Allison elementary schools, Martinez said.

Parents would have the option of entering a drawing for seats in other district schools with available spots. Faculty and staff would move to the two schools or other district campuses, Martinez said.

The closure would help the district close a $6.05million budget deficit it faces for the 2013-2014 budget, he said.

It costs the district slightly more than $1.7 million to run Montvue, $1.5 million of which comes from the state for students' average daily attendance funding, said district spokesman Ryan Hightower.

If the school is closed, the district would save about $362,000 a year, Hightower said.

At this point Montvue does not generate enough revenue to pay for itself, officials said.

Some parents asked why their children's school was targeted for closure over others.

Two other small campuses - Armstrong Elementary in Diamond Bar with about 435 students and Yorba Elementary in north Pomona with about 215 students were considered, they were told.

The closest schools to Yorba are 2 miles or more away, Martinez said after the meeting.

In addition "that is a school we're looking to turn into a dependent charter school" with the involvement of the University of La Verne, Martinez said.

In the case of Armstrong Elementary, students would have to go through some busy intersections to reach the next closest school, he said.

Parents said closing Montvue would be disruptive for students and will have an emotional impact on them.

Other parents said getting children to other campuses would be difficult since many parents lack transportation.

"Nobody has cars. Everybody walks their kids to school every day," one mother said. "How do you expect little kids to walk to school? It's impossible!"

Some parents asked where their tax dollars were being spent.

Martinez said taxes generated by the voter-approved Measure PS are being used for school improvements and modernization but cannot be used for salaries.

As for Proposition 30, approved by state voters in November, questions remain as to how much the state will allocate Pomona Unified.

Some parents said closing the school would hurt the neighborhood by attracting vandalism and other problems.

Martinez said that should Montvue close, the campus would not remain vacant. Part of the district's Adult Education programs, such as English as a Second Language and GED preparation, would be moved there along with the program's administration, Martinez said.

It would allow the district's adult program facilities on Mission Boulevard to be put to another use, be leased or sold, he said.

Vazquez-Downing has strong ties to Montvue. She and her siblings attended Montvue and now her children are students there.

"I want my children to have the experience of going to local schools," she said.

On March 5, Vazquez-Downing will be at the school board meeting and is encouraging other parents and residents to attend.

If Montvue closes, she said she's prepared to take her children out of the district.


Reach Monica via email, follow her on Twitter @PomonaNow, or call her at 909-483-9336.