The final four
Campus Consolidation Committee to make its recommendations to the Board of Trustees
It wasn’t easy, but the work is done.
After six months of sifting through binders and discussing the unpopular topic of school closure, the Chico school district’s Campus Consolidation Committee completed its task at its Jan. 18 meeting.
In what was probably the group’s most cohesive meeting, committee members narrowed the remaining scenarios for cutting nearly $1 million from the district’s 2005-06 budget from seven to four final recommendations, which will now be put into the hands of the Chico Unified School District Board of Trustees.
“We have provided them [the school board] the data and the models,” committee Chairman Paul Moore said after the meeting. “If this has to be done, we’ve given them great assistance.”
All four of the committee’s recommendations would cut more than $900,000 from the district’s upcoming budget. Committee members, who were given the task of making recommendations that included a K-8 Open Structure option and one without, agreed that some of the recommendations left little to be desired and said the Board of Trustees’ decision would not be an easy one.
Three of the committee’s final recommendations call for the closure of three small outlying schools—Nord, Forest Ranch and Cohasset elementaries. Scenario One also calls for Jay Partridge Elementary to close. Scenario Two would close Jay Partridge and Hooker Oak and reopen the latter school as a K-8 Open Structure program. The third scenario would close Rosedale Elementary.
The committee agreed to hand over the fourth recommendation to the Board of Trustees despite analysis from the mother-daughter team of Cheryl and Jaime King, of Schreder & Associates, stating that it would disrupt more than 1,000 students and require major redistricting.
“I’m willing to put the school board up to the challenge,” said committee member Carol Linscheid, who, like the rest of the committee, wasn’t keen on the idea of handing over only scenarios that included the closing of all three small schools.
The fourth scenario, proposed by committee member Ann Hayes last week, calls for the closure of Jay Partridge and Citrus elementaries and one of the three small schools, and by attrition Hooker Oak would change to a K-8 Open Structure program. It would involve moving numerous school boundaries and scattering several small groups of students throughout the district.
Scenario Four would also require moving six portable classrooms from Jay Partridge to Shasta, Emma Wilson and Rosedale, which would bring additional costs in the neighborhood of $120,000, which district representative Cindy Kampf said would be a one-time expense.
During the meeting, Jaime King went over analysis of the two scenarios recently proposed by Hayes and committee member Eileen Robinson and pointed out that both would require a major reconfiguration of the district.
“These scenarios are good in theory,” King said, “but would cause more disruption and require more movement.”
Cheryl King mirrored her daughter’s thoughts before the meeting, explaining that the scenarios proposed by committee members would also disrupt such special programs as GATE and Academics Plus.
“Logistically, the level of disruption is much higher in these scenarios due to the fact that students are being shifted to numerous school sites,” King said.
Once again the meeting was held at Chico Junior High School’s multi-purpose room to accommodate the large number of people on hand to support their schools.
During the public-comment portion of the meeting, several audience members addressed the committee, asking why it decided to go forth with a recommendation against the counsel of the district-paid consultants.
Many of those on hand were upset that Citrus Elementary School was included, not only because of its history and diversity, but also because the fourth scenario was presented so late in the process.
The scenario was posted on the district’s Web site on Jan. 13, two days after the committee’s last meeting. Cindy Kampf said she called Citrus that day to inform administrators that the campus had been included in one of the new scenarios.
Citrus Principal Ted Sullivan sent a newsletter home on Jan. 14 to inform students and parents about the new scenario. He said he, along with many parents, were taken aback by the announcement.
“I think when you’re not being discussed and then all of a sudden you are being discussed,” Sullivan said after the committee’s final meeting, “I guess surprise is the best way to describe it.”
The committee’s report, which was originally supposed to go to the CUSD Board of Trustees on Dec. 15, will be handed over on Feb. 2. The trustees have the option of choosing one of the committee’s scenarios or going a different route entirely.