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SCUSD School Closure List Makes Some Students Winners or Losers

     The SCUSD school closure list is out and some of the criteria behind the selection of the schools on it has been revealed. Three of  the Superintendent's Priority Schools get a pass, despite the fact they are under enrolled. Oak Ridge was on a closure list two years ago because of low enrollment and  the poor shape of its facility. Now it will be a receiving school for students from Bret Harte and Fruitridge Elementary Schools. Schools with criteria like Phoebe Hearst and Camellia, which can pick and chose their students from all over the district, will remain open while neighborhood  schools are closed. Nor was any consideration given to closing the small high schools, which are also under enrolled, and housing  their programs on a larger campus to save money. So much for right sizing the district and closing schools that make the most sense, despite whatever programs are in place, since "programs can be moved".  This is all evidence that Sac City is not considering this issue holistically, but merely choosing the most expedient targets.  District students attending "special" schools are going to be winners and those attending neighborhood schools will be losers if this list stands. 
     Back in 2009 when schools were proposed for closure, public meetings were held in each area. One audience member at a meeting at Washington Elementary observed that to address the declining enrollment and over capacity in the district, planning should have begun with considering  the best way to serve the needs of the new lower population of students in the district. Only then should discussion begin on which facilities to remain in service or to close. San Juan Unified went through this process years ago. But the old "Serna board" had refused to begin this process and had even built the small high schools while knowing that the district would be facing under enrollment for years to come. For the past ten years, the district has closed schools piecemeal, even when attempting to put a process like a 7-11 committee in place. Now with its back against the wall financially, it still seems that the district isn't making these decisions with any particular process or the best interests of all the students of the district in mind.
    Beyond the issue of which schools get picked for closure is the fact that school buildings can't just lie vacant without being a burden on the district or the neighborhoods they're in. The city doesn't have the money to operate any of them as community centers. Are there neighborhood groups that can utilize them? Moreover, to "repurpose" a school building in that manner, the district must have a 7-11 committee. That is a requirement of Ed Code. Given that charter school operators are probably already eyeing the soon to be closed campuses, enrollment in the district could further decline. Parents left without a neighborhood school for their children may opt out of the district altogether. The district may be digging its own grave by closing these schools.

Sacramento City Unified Considers Closing 11 Elementary Schools

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