Ocean View School District to close Huntington Beach middle school, leave 3 elementary schools open

Jonah Overton, a Golden View Elementary student, speaks at Ocean View School District meeting.
Jonah Overton, a fifth-grade student who attends Golden View Elementary, speaks during Tuesday night’s Ocean View School District board meeting.
(James Carbone)

The Ocean View School District will consolidate Spring View Middle School in Huntington Beach for next school year.

The district Board of Trustees decided on a split vote Tuesday night to close the school in the face of continued declining enrollment in the district. But three elementary schools that have also been considered for consolidation in recent months — Golden View, Circle View and Village View, all in Huntington Beach — will remain open.

Tuesday night’s agenda had recommendations from Supt. Michael Conroy to close Spring View and Golden View. Dozens of parents, students and teachers spoke during public comments against closing Golden View, and the trustees decided by an unanimous vote to leave it open.


Most in the crowd applauded, and some yelled, “Thank you.”

Aaralyn Esquivel brings plants she grew to OVSD President Patricia Singer.
Aaralyn Esquivel, a fourth-grade student from Golden View Elementary, brings plants she grew to Ocean View School District President Patricia Singer during Tuesday night’s board meeting.
(James Carbone)

“It’s unbelievable,” said Angelique St. Jean, the mother of fourth-grade twin boys, both with varying levels of autism, who attend the school. “My reaction is gratitude. It’s nothing short of a miracle ... [the kids] shouldn’t have to worry about this, but it is happening in a lot of districts.”

St. Jean, a member of the Golden View PTO, leaped into action after the school consolidation was agendized, buying poster board for signs and rallying the troops. She said they put poster board in the middle of the school, which has no walls dividing the classrooms, and kids would walk by to practice their speeches.

The board voted to consolidate Spring View, which did not have similar support at the meeting, by a 3-2 vote. President Patricia Singer and trustees Morgan Westmoreland and Jack Souders voted in favor, while Vice-President Gina Clayton-Tarvin and trustee Norm Westwell voted against. Those students will be moved to other middle schools in the district for the 2024-25 school year.

Parents stand in support as Village View Elementary parent Carrie Lustig speaks during Tuesday's meeting.
Parents stand in support as Village View Elementary parent Carrie Lustig speaks during Tuesday’s Ocean View School District board meeting.
(James Carbone)

Circle View and Village View were ultimately not recommended by the superintendent for consolidation, and the trustees voted against closing them with unanimous 5-0 votes.

Consolidating Spring View will bring the district a projected three-year savings of about $2.9 million, according to the agenda item, and $5.8 million by 2030. The district office will now be moved to Spring View’s campus.

“As President Singer mentioned, we’ve engaged the community, and now the community will remain engaged,” Conroy said after the meeting. “The issue of declining enrollment is not going away. The issue of low schools’ enrollment is not going away. I think what’s important is continuing the conversation, continuing the community engagement. We’re talking about sustainability in the district as we move forward.”

The Ocean View School District Board of Trustees listens to public comments.
The Ocean View School District Board of Trustees listens to public comments during Tuesday night’s meeting.
(James Carbone)

The trustees discussed forming a “7-11 committee” that would give recommendations to the board on any surplus district property, and Westmoreland made a well-received suggestion to start an ongoing task force on declining enrollment.

“It’s not to panic the community but to ensure that we continue having these discussions and start looking at solutions,” Singer said. “If we don’t, it won’t look pretty here down the road.”

The Ocean View School District has grappled with closures after losing nearly 3,000 students over the last decade, echoing trends statewide. The last closure in the district was Sun View Elementary, in 2018.

Conroy said during a presentation Tuesday night that district enrollment is estimated to drop by more than 1,000 students over the next several years, to 5,563 students by 2030. The district serves parts of Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Westminster and Midway City.

A student from Golden View Elementary hugs her mother during Tuesday's meeting.
A student from Golden View Elementary is overwhelmed with emotion as she hugs her mother during Tuesday night’s meeting.
(James Carbone)

Golden View supporters questioned why the board would shutter a school that has actually increased enrollment over the last five years and has an innovative feature like a farm on campus. At the start of public comments, some students gave board members strawberries and plants from the farm.

The agenda item’s recommended action was to repurpose Golden View into the district’s environmental science center.

Jill Dowd, a teacher at Golden View for 21 years, fought back tears as she addressed the board. Both of her daughters attended the school, and she’s also a 4-H project leader for the Cloverdales, which is based out of Golden View.

“It’s heartbreaking to even think that Golden View could be torn apart,” Dowd said. “We are so much more than a field trip destination.”

Jonathan Tomlinson talks about his two special needs sons, JJ and Zeke.
Jonathan Tomlinson talks during Tuesday night’s meeting about his two special needs sons, JJ and Zeke, and the impact it will have on them if Golden View Elementary closes.
(James Carbone)

Kim Ruiz spoke to the board as a Spring View teacher and a Golden View parent — “nothing like getting hit from both sides,” she said.

Like some other speakers, she questioned why town hall meetings scheduled for Spring View and Golden View last March were never rescheduled.

“While Spring View and Golden View aren’t your highly sought-after schools like Mesa View and Circle View, I truly believe they are the hidden gems of the district,” Ruiz said. “There is truly a family feel at both schools, with dedicated staffs, the majority have been together for 20-plus years. I know business decisions must be made tonight, but there are students and staff whose lives will be immeasurably changed by those decisions.”

Ocean View School District Superintendent Michael Conroy.
Ocean View School District Superintendent Michael Conroy listens to parents speak during public comments Tuesday night.
(James Carbone)

The trustees responded unanimously that they wanted to keep Golden View open, with Souders saying they would be “absolute imbeciles” to close it.

“Among all of our schools, it is the most unique school that we have in our district,” Souders said. “It will not work as a science center. It needs to have children in there all the time ... It is such a beautiful campus, and I’m so glad that it hasn’t changed after all of these years.

“I never regretted [sending my kids there] for a minute, even when I was being chased by sheep.”

Samantha Tran, a second-grade student from Golden View Elementary, reads a letter.
Arya Ramos, a student from Golden View Elementary, reads a letter to the Ocean View School District board on Tuesday night.
(James Carbone)

The four schools were originally brought up for consolidation last February, but the district pumped the brakes for the current school year. A superintendent’s task force met for several months to come up with suggestions, though some parents ended up frustrated with that process.

Crystal Mayer, a Circle View parent who has been involved throughout, thanked Singer and the board for agendizing the school consolidations. She asked the board for assurance that school consolidations wouldn’t be brought up again, though Clayton-Tarvin responded that the board couldn’t legally do that and tie the hands of future boards.

“I appreciate that you have taken a less aggressive approach to what undoubtedly is the hardest decision that many of you have had to make in your time at the dais,” Mayer said. “I believe that we have all learned so much from this process ... I hope that we can continue to ask questions, continue to work together, innovate and grow as a district.”

Parents and students applaud at the Ocean View School District board meeting.
Parents and students applaud after students address the Ocean View School District Board of Trustees on Tuesday night.
(James Carbone)