Students, teachers and parents stand up for Rosedale
The signs said it all:
“Rosedale is our home.”
A parade of about 75 students, teachers and parents marched along Oak Street and Oak Park Avenue March 8, waving signs and chanting, “Save Rosedale,” in a last-ditch effort to save their school from being closed.
Rosedale Elementary School is one of the campuses currently on the Chico Unified School District’s chopping block in an attempt to cut into a $1.1 million budget deficit.
Jewel Barbour, who taught at the school from 1987 to 1994 and who currently runs the Home Study Program, said she anticipates that three-quarters of the students, approximately 130 kids, will be relocated to Chapman Elementary if Rosedale is closed. Her thoughts mirrored those of several faculty members, referiing to the fact that Rosedale’s diverse student population won’t be distributed to less-ethnically balanced schools.
“By sending all these kids over to Chapman, it’s basically going to ghettoize students,” Barbour said.
Barbour, along with other teachers, also showed concern over the fact that Chapman is in its fourth year as a “corrective-action school.” In 2004, Chapman’s scores in the Academic Performance Index (API) didn’t meet federal requirements for adequate yearly progress (AYP). The school actually showed the second-highest growth in the district, but scores fell short in its English-language-learners program.
For others, Rosedale represents a comfortable place for students to spend time outside the home.
Kim Egger walked the procession with her daughter Khylie, clenching signs and wearing the now-familiar Rosedale shirt with the words “Fifty years of excellence.” Egger believes there are other ways the district can save money without closing down schools.
“My kids live for this school,” she said. “It’s the one place they feel safe and cared for.”
Speaking on behalf of the school were David Murgia and Kristen Wiegert, both fifth-grade teachers at Rosedale.
Murgia, who’s taught there since 1990, watched as the group made another pass along the east side of the campus. “There are a lot of languages, a lot of cultures represented here,” he said.
The entire Rosedale faculty is CLAD (Crosscultural, Language and Academic Development) certified by the state, Murgia said, meaning they are well-equipped to work with the school’s diverse population.
According to the draft report from the Campus Consolidation Committee, Rosedale’s students, based on actual attendance, are 57 percent non-white and 43 percent white.
Wiegert said Rosedale is such a hub of the students’ life and that the staff members, who average 14 years’ experience, have worked hard to keep programs going.
She looked on as the marchers dispersed and cars drove off with signs in the windows.
“Well, we can’t say we didn’t try,” Wiegert said.
Currently Rosedale, Jay Partridge and Nord elementaries are options on the CUSD Board of Trustees’ list for possible school closures. The district also recommended at the trustees’ March 2 meeting that administrative positions including a secondary site administrator be eliminated.
At the meeting, the three mountain schools, Cohasset and Forest Ranch, were taken off the table. Also taken from the reduction list was the elimination of program-related certificate positions such as librarians and school nurses.
CUSD school board President Rick Anderson said he believes the board has most of what it needs to make a decision in the coming weeks, most likely at the next meeting on March 16.
“It would be irresponsible not to look at elementary-school consolidation,” Anderson said, explaining that there are currently more than 800 vacant seats in the district.
Anderson also said the board could make a decision regarding the opening of a pilot K-8 Open Structure classroom for the 2005-06 school year. He said the board is asking that a memorandum of understanding be drafted that will document expectations of how the program will be run. He said details will be discussed in the coming weeks.
Anderson said he still believes school closure is a more viable option than cutting music programs and eliminating teaching positions. There’s also the looming issue of having to cut into a possible $1.2 million deficit gap in the coming 2005-06 school year.
Anderson said it’s not a fun position to be in, but that he respects the concern and action the community has shown.
“If I weren’t in a position of making the decision, I’d be right there with them."