Sacramento City district trustees vote to keep open Tahoe, Twain schools

Published: Friday, Mar. 8, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Friday, Mar. 8, 2013 - 9:40 am

Sacramento City Unified School District trustees Thursday night, as expected, gave a unanimous thumbs-up to continued operation of both Tahoe Elementary and Mark Twain Elementary schools.

Trustees had been asked to choose which of the two schools should close to help ease the financial burden of declining district enrollment. But the campuses won a reprieve from that decision.

The district with 47,000 students lost 10 percent of its enrollment in one decade and projects further decline. The board voted 4-3 two weeks ago to close seven other campuses after the current school year.

Superintendent Jonathan Raymond told trustees that instead of closure, he recommended that both Mark Twain and Tahoe continue operating. As he did so, members of the audience erupted in applause.

A staff report prepared for the meeting cited two persuasive factors: input from communities around both schools and the uncertainty around the timing and scope of West Campus construction adjacent to Mark Twain.

Using bond money approved by voters in November, the district is planning for a substantial transformation of West Campus High School to create facilities that a comprehensive high school should provide.

District spokesman Gabe Ross earlier Thursday said the timing of that project was not yet decided. That uncertainty means that it may be premature to move Mark Twain students to Tahoe. And it may be unwise to move Tahoe students to Mark Twain where construction is planned.

Tahoe Elementary at 3110 60th St. has an enrollment of 315 students with a capacity of 822, according to the district.

Mark Twain Elementary at 4914 58th St. has an enrollment of 343 students with a capacity of 891.

The staff report noted that the superintendent's recommendations "recognize the overwhelming desire throughout the district to put this difficult matter to rest and immediately devote all resources and energy towards the transition process underway at the seven sites already voted to be closed."

The board on Feb. 21 approved seven elementary schools for closure – Washington, Maple, Collis P. Huntington, Fruit Ridge, Joseph Bonnheim, Mark Hopkins and Clayton B. Wire.

Raymond announced early during the Feb. 21 board meeting that Susan B. Anthony, Bret Harte and James Marshall were being pulled off the closure list.

Raymond said enrollment at Susan B. Anthony and Bret Harte will be affected by housing developments planned near the schools.

He also said the James Marshall community raised valid objections to students being moved to A.M. Winn, which is becoming a Waldorf-inspired school.

Call The Bee's Loretta Kalb, (916) 321-1073.

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