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Waning population forcing elementary school closures

Date Posted: 2005-12-01

Naha City children will soon be sitting in classrooms at new schools.

City officials say they’ll be closing some elementary schools and restructuring the size on others. Declining enrollments and rising costs are cited as reasons for the changes.

Kumoji Elementary school is one targeted for closure. Located in downtown Naha, it’s a school with a long history. Parents and teachers are appealing for a reprieve, “Please let our school continue.” Unions, parents and teachers are all feeling the impact of the changes, and are meeting with the Board of Education in hopes of getting a reversal.

The Board of Education has published a policy document explaining the basic plans, which include Kumoji Elementary School closing, and merging students into other nearby schools. It is going ahead with the closure, despite parents gathering 16,540 signatures on a petition opposing the move, twice the number needed to gain change.

Board of Education Director Mikako Nakada says “I know their mind, and I feel a very big responsibility for them, but we must concern ourselves with the life of Naha City’s future, and how it’s going to be.” Nakada says there are other schools being closed too, including not only elementary schools, but kindergartens too.

“There big budget reduction policies going on now,” Nakada says, “otherwise the financial situation will not get any better.” Asked if there was anything that could change the decisions, an official quipped “citizens must make more babies.”

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