Old closed schools get new life - Tucson News Now

Old closed schools get new life

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Bulldozers show just how recent work as been done to the former Roberts Elementary School campus, closed two years ago.

Now it is home to Pima Community College's 29th street Coalition Center.

But just as they have something to celebrate, other empty schools could remain so for a while.

Roberts Elementary will now educate adults.

Rene Gastelum, with the 29th Street Coalition worried that Roberts would stay empty.

But PCC will use it as the 29th Street Coalition Center to offer early adult education and first responder training.

"It's a blessing in disguise," Gastelum said. "We at that time decided that maybe this is the answer to the problem that we had. So we looked at Pima Community College, we looked at TUSD, and formulated the program that would possibly help them help us to reestablish this as a hub for the neighborhood.

Practice mannequins and other teaching tools fill the classrooms which will be active even at night. Pima's activities here keep the campus necessary instead of sitting idle.

"Our responsibility as Pima Community College is to bring education to our residents in as many ways as possible," Marty Cortez of the PCC Governing Board said. "They were afraid of what it would attract. As we know, vacant buildings attract crime and unhealthy activities."

The future of two former TUSD schools, Wrightstown and Reynolds, remains uncertain. The district will likely hold the campuses for a year or two.

Wrightstown would have been developed for luxury rental homes, but the developer stopped when he felt the neighborhood didn't want it. But he is still interested.

"If it turns out that the neighbors soften the opposition or if they think of ways we can mitigate some concerns that they had, we'd be more than happy to come back and look again," Alta Vista Communities owner Roger Karber said.

The district now plans to better secure those schools and any others it might close if it consolidates schools as it has been discussing over the past few months.

They would look for tenants for those campuses on a more limited scale – not conduct the search all at once as they did last time.

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