When Finley Elementary School closed its doors in 1979, the chances of it ever reopening looked bleak.
The Westminster School District, which had more than 13,000 students in 1969, was in the midst of a decade-long enrollment decline that forced the district to close once-thriving elementary schools, including Finley.
But now, with enrollment on the rise for the first time in two decades, the district will reopen Finley to more than 400 students on Sept. 10 and is considering reopening a second elementary school next fall.
“We appear to be starting an upward swing,” said Barbara Winars, assistant superintendent of personnel services.
The first significant surge in growth came last year when the district welcomed more than 400 additional students. This year, they anticipate 250 more students for a total district population of more than 8,600 students, Winars said.
Finley’s population will be made up of students who were previously designated to attend Sequoia and Fay Fryberger elementary schools. The reopening will also affect students at Ray M. Schmitt Elementary School, some of whom will now attend Fryberger.
Sequoia, Schmitt and Fryberger all had been experiencing severe overcrowding.
During the years that Finley was closed as an elementary school, Coastline Community College rented the facility and used it as a satellite campus.
With the addition of Finley, the Westminster School District now has 17 elementary schools, two middle schools and one junior high school. It serves students in Westminster, Midway City and parts of Garden Grove and Huntington Beach.