Community Responds To Sac City Unified School Closures

SACRAMENTO – Facing under enrollment and a declining student population, Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) discussed the consideration of several campus closures during its Board meeting late this week at the Joe Serna Community Center.

During the meeting SCUSD Superintendent Jonathan Raymond recommended closing a total of 11 schools, practically all in South Sacramento.

Raymond said the closures would save the district between $2.1 and $2.6 million each year for the next four years.

“This is a fiscal decision,” Raymond told the Board.

“So we decided to use a fiscal criteria,”he stated.

The schools that were recommended to close are: James Marshall, Tahoe, C.P. Huntington, Susan B. Anthony, Bret Harte, Fruit Ridge, Joseph Bonnheim, Washington, Mark Hopkins, C.B. Wire, and Maple.

The meeting attracted an enormous crowd of parents, students, and teacher that not only filled the Board’s chamber, but the cafeteria and front lobby too.

A total of 65 people made public comments. None of them were in favor of closing any schools, including parent John Ketchum.

Ketchum has a daughter in the second grade at Fruit Ridge Elementary School, one of the schools considered for closure.

“You need to find another way to help these kids and not worry about the money,” Ketchum told the Board.

“I’ve checked online those other schools where you want to send them and I’ll tell you…I’m not happy,” said the parent.

In the last decade, SCUSD’s enrollment has declined by 10 percent, from a high of 53, 418 in 2001-02 to 47,939 in the last school year. Officials from the Superintendent’s office cited aging communities and the region’s economic crisis as factors of decline.

Some of the concerns the parents had about sending their children to other schools in the district related to safety, traffic, and access to special-needs educators.

“Plans are being put in place to make sure parents have a ‘smooth transition’ to the other schools,” Raymond said.

“We will also hold community meeting so that every voice is heard,” the Superintendent added.
The Board won’t make a decision on the closures until February.

_____

By Antonio Harvey
OBSERVER Staff Writer