Sacramento City Unified School District trustees will discuss the potential closure of three elementary schools and the consolidation of two more at tonight's school board meeting, although a vote is not expected until next week.
Controversial proposals involving West Campus and Sacramento Charter high schools are not on tonight's board agenda, but will likely be addressed during public comment.
Current proposals being looked at for West Campus and Sacramento Charter High include swapping facilities or co-locating the selective West Campus school at the Sacramento High facility.
Parents and students who oppose those proposals plan to stage a rally at 4:45 p.m. today outside Serna Center, 5735 47th Ave.
The school board meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.
"We want our campus left alone," said Doug McCarley, the father of a West Campus freshman.
That's the same feeling many parents, teachers and students at schools proposed for closure A.M. Winn, Collis P. Huntington and Freeport elementary schools have expressed in calls and emails to The Bee.
"There is pushback on every one of them," said district spokesman Gabe Ross. "It's a painful process. Even at Edward Kemble and Cesar E. Chavez, where the consolidation is literally about going from two principals to one and taking down the fence, there is pushback."
Ross said teachers, parents and community members have indicated on district budget surveys that the district should close underenrolled schools to balance its budget.
"But, no one wants to close their schools," Ross said.
Sacramento City Unified Superintendent Jonathan Raymond said the closures are necessary in light of his district cutting $177 million from its budget over the past decade and the potential of having to cut another $12 million in midyear trigger cuts.
"The last thing you want to do is close a school," Raymond said. "You have to do it as a last resort."
Sacramento City Unified closed four schools in 2009, three months prior to Raymond taking the helm. Raymond delayed conversations about additional closures in 2010, instead saying the district needed clear criteria and data to determine which schools would be closed or consolidated in the future.
After establishing criteria, each school board member appointed a person to a facilities review committee that submitted a report with its suggestions for closures and consolidations.
That committee suggested two controversial moves: Swap West Campus and Sacramento Charter High and consolidate struggling Kit Carson Middle School with nearby academic gem Sutter Middle School.
The Kit Carson and Sutter consolidation received intense scrutiny, as it did when it was brought up in 2009 under a different administration. Changes to Sutter are no longer being discussed, Raymond said.
Raymond established what he is calling design teams or groups of stakeholders working toward recommendations for program or facility changes at West Campus/Sacramento High, Kit Carson Middle School, Leonardo da Vinci, Hollywood Park Elementary School, School of Engineering and Sciences, Caleb Greenwood and John Still elementary and middle schools.
Sacramento Charter High has representatives on the West Campus design team, said Jim Scheible, superintendent of St. HOPE, which operates the independent charter.
Scheible said he is concerned that the swapping and co-location proposals each seem to force middle school students at St. HOPE's successful Public School 7 off the Sacramento High campus.
"There are aspects of Sac High that could not continue at West Campus, such our sports program and our advisory program," Scheible said. "If you are saying the campus is deficient for West Campus, why is it OK to put Sac High there?"
The campus swap proposal has been thrown around since the non-unionized Sacramento Charter High took over the failing Sacramento High in 2003.
The Sacramento City Teachers Association supports swapping West Campus and Sacramento Charter High, said the union's second vice president, Erik Knudson. However, the proposal has already hit major obstacles because of a lack of communication with West Campus students, teachers and parents, Knudson said.
"It's fraught with ill feelings," he said. "Now that the damage is done, I'm not sure if it can be salvaged."
Knudson said SCTA supports the consolidations and closures of district schools, including the elementary school proposals being discussed at tonight's board meeting.
"The district should have done that six years ago," Knudson said. "This isn't something you want to see, but we don't have the 55,000 students we used to. We are acting like a district that is much larger."