Staff and students of Tempe's McKemy Middle School learned this week the district is considering closing the school next school year. A letter was sent home with students Thursday afternoon.

The recommendation came as one of several budget reduction options for the Tempe Elementary School District. A committee of parents, teachers and community members are looking at more than 40 ideas to reduce the district's budget in light of expected state cuts to education.

"If the state cuts us at 10 percent, and there have been estimates higher than that, we're going to have to cut $8 million from our budget," district spokeswoman Monica Allread said. "We are facing extreme economic times."

The district has cut more than $11 million in the last four years.

"You get to some point where you have to start making deeper cuts," Allread said.

The district is also considering closing Bustoz and Meyer elementary schools and merging them with Fuller and Hudson elementary schools in the fall. The committee has prioritized the list of ideas, which will be on the district's website this week, Allread said. The final decision rests with the elected governing board.

The district will hold public forums over the next few weeks where parents and the community can make comments on the recommendations. Information about the meetings can be found at www.tempeschools.org.

With Arizona looking at a $1.4 billion budget shortfall next year beginning July 1, public schools anticipate another year of cuts. Public education for kindergarten through 12th grade makes up about 40 percent of the state's budget.

The Tempe Elementary district closed Evans Elementary School beginning with the 2009 school year.

Last spring, the Apache Junction Unified School District announced the decision to close two schools. Mesa Unified School District's governing board closed Powell Junior High School and converted Alma Elementary School from a neighborhood campus into a back-to-basics Franklin school this school year.

Like Tempe, Mesa's school leaders have created a committee to explore additional cost-savings and revenue measures. That group will also provide recommendations to the district's governing board in the next month or two.

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