March 4, 2013

Sacramento Unified likely to grant Tahoe, Twain schools reprieve from closure

The last of two Sacramento City Unified schools slated for closure this year are likely to remain open.

The last of two Sacramento City Unified schools slated for closure this year are likely to remain open.

Superintendent Jonathan Raymond is no longer recommending school board members decide this Thursday night between closing either Tahoe Elementary or Mark Twain Elementary.

The board will vote on the superintendent's recommendation at the board meeting. Board member Patrick Kennedy said they are likely to approve it and keep the schools open.

"It's (closing schools) hard enough to do with the support of the superintendent," Kennedy said. "But you never know for sure."

On Feb. 21, the board approved the closure of Washington, Maple, Collis P. Huntington, Fruit Ridge, Joseph Bonnheim, Mark Hopkins and Clayton B. Wire elementary schools because of declining student enrollment. Raymond had initially proposed closing 11 elementary schools, but pulled three of them from the list at the Feb. 21 board meeting.

The urban district of 47,000 students has lost 10 percent of its enrollment in the past decade and anticipates further declines in the coming years, including 800 students next school year.

Tahoe Elementary at 3110 60th St. has an enrollment of 315 students with a capacity of 822. Mark Twain Elementary at 4914 58th St. has an enrollment of 343 students with a capacity of 891, according to the district.

The superintendent's recommendation gives a number of reasons for his change of heart, including input from the Tahoe and Mark Twain communities.

"Additionally, 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," said the recommendation.

Kennedy said it is a big task to close a school and to transition students and staff members to other campuses. He said Raymond is likely "starting to feel the district is at its tipping point. He was probably feeling he's taken on as much as he could."

If the board agrees with the superintendent and closes seven schools, it will save $1.08 million in 2013-14 and $1.2 million in 2014-15, instead of the $1.3 million and $1.5 million estimated for eight schools. The recommendations said the savings would grow each year after that.

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