Report Card

News and discussion on K-12 schools in the greater Sacramento region

February 21, 2013
For latest on Sac City school closures, check here

closure3.jpegUpdate 12:38 a.m.: Trustees in the Sacramento City Unified School District voted 4-3 to close seven schools at the end of this school year after a lengthy school board meeting Thursday night.

The schools that will be closed are Washington, Maple, Collis P. Huntington, Fruit Ridge, Joseph Bonnheim, Mark Hopkins and Clayton B. Wire. Trustees Jeff Cuneo, Patrick Kennedy, Jay Hansen and Darrel Woo voted in favor of the closures, while Gustavo Arroyo, Diana Rodriguez and Christina Pritchett voted against.

Board members were scheduled to vote on the closure of 10 elementary schools on Thursday, but three were pulled from the list at the start of the meeting. Superintendent Jonathan Raymond said concerns raised about the closure of Susan B. Anthony, Bret Harte and James Marshall warranted a second look.

Raymond said enrollment at Susan B. Anthony and Bret Harte will be affected by residential developments planned near the schools. The superintendent said he heard objections from some James Marshall parents whose children would have been zoned for A.M. Winn, which is transitioning to a Waldorf-inspired school.

The board is scheduled to vote on whether to close Tahoe Elementary or Mark Twain Elementary at a March 7 meeting.

"School closures are a part of what needs to happen in our district," School board president Jeff Cuneo said. "The fact is we have not enough kids for our schools at this time."

Update 11:55 p.m.: Trustee Jay Hansen, who may end up being the swing vote tonight, said there are long term gains to be had by closing schools, which may be hard for those experiencing the short term pain to see.

Hansen took a defensive tone with his comments, saying he's been surprised by the hateful emails he has received and felt some speakers tonight were disrespectful.

Hansen was appointed to the board in December to fill the vacated seat of Ellyn Bell. As part of his appointment interview, Trustee Darrel Woo asked Hansen what his thoughts were on school closures.

Hansen said they should be a last priority and should come after an open and transparent process.

Update 11:10 p.m.: In my story today, I wrote that sources told me that newly appointed board member Jay Hansen would be the swing vote for closures tonight.

Here's how that is playing out right now. Board members Darrel Woo, Jeff Cuneo and Patrick Kennedy have each spoken in support of doing the fiscally responsible thing by closing schools.

Board members Christina Pritchett, Gustavo Arroyo and Diana Rodriguez have each expressed grave concern with the closure process and the disproportionate effect on low-income and minorities communities in south Sacramento.

What about Hansen? He hasn't spoken yet.

Update 10 p.m.: Public comment continues 3 1/2 hours after the Sacramento City Unified board meeting began. There are about 10 speakers remaining before trustees will begin to discuss and vote on the school closures.

Update 9 p.m.: Several speakers have called the district's recommendation to remove three schools from the list of 11 slated for closure as "dividing and conquering."

A long list of speakers remain. Board won't begin discussing the closures until after public comment ends. In the meantime, check out the photo gallery by Bee Photographer Paul Kitagaki Jr. by clicking HERE.

Update 8 p.m.: Public comment has begun at the Sacramento City Unified School District school board meeting, where more than 100 people have submitted speaker cards to address the board regarding the school closures. Each speaker is given two minutes. Just a dozen speakers in, many have gone over their two minute allotment.

So far, Superintendent Jonathan Raymond has pulled three schools from the closure list - Susan B. Anthony, Bret Harte and James Marshall elementary schools. Raymond said enrollment at Susan B. Anthony and Bret Harte will be impacted in the future by residential developments planned near the schools. The superintendent said there were reasonable objections from James Marshall parents whose children would have been zoned for A.M. Winn, which is transitioning to a Waldorf-inspired school.

Update 7:30 p.m. - Superintendent Jonathan Raymond said he is now recommending pulling James Marshall, Bret Harte and Susan B. Anthony elementary schools from the closure list.

Update 6:30 p.m. - The board room is packed, as was expected. As I drove up at 6 p.m., there were a few dozen people outside with signs protesting the proposed closures.

Former Sacramento City Unified board president Roy Grimes is here. Grimes said he had no comment on the current school closure proposal, but instead is here to urge trustees to engage the community moving forward.

Sacramento City Councilwoman Bonnie Pannell said she is here to offer support of community members.

"Parents are so upset," Pannell said. "They aren't sure about the process and neither am I."

Board President Jeff Cuneo just announced the beginning of the meeting. Check back.


Tonight's Sacramento City Unified School District school board meeting begins at 6:30. Check The Report Card for the latest news on the district's proposal to close 10 elementary schools at the end of this school year.

I will also be tweeting from the meeting, which you can read below or find me on Twitter @MelodyGutierrez. If you're reading this on your smartphone, follow me here.

I will be checking for reader questions on this blog, so feel free to post.

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About Report Card

Loretta KalbLoretta Kalb started her reporting career at The Sacramento Union, moved to KOVR-13 as a television reporter, editor and producer, headed to The Associated Press in San Francisco and eventually returned to Sacramento and joined The Sacramento Bee. Throughout her career, she has covered the state Legislature, courts, local government and, now, education. She is a Chico native and an Elk Grove resident.

Diana LambertDiana Lambert began her journalism career as a proofreader at the Lodi News-Sentinel. She is now a senior writer at The Sacramento Bee covering K-12 education and California State University, Sacramento. Previously she was The Bee’s Elk Grove bureau chief. Lambert was raised in a military family and lived at bases around the globe. She attended four high schools, graduating from Tokay High in Lodi and then Sacramento State University. She lives in Elk Grove.

(916) 321-1073
Twitter: @LorettaSacBee
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