Parents, Teachers Fear Budget Cuts Could Put Some Twin Rivers Schools on the Chopping Block

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A current of frustration is running through dozens of neighborhoods as the Twin Rivers Unified School District tries to face up to its fiscal responsibilities.

"Why do that? I just can't see it, I really can't see them doing that," Alice Thomas said about the next steps she thinks the district might take.

In the hole $3.8 million and with declining enrollment squeezing an already strapped budget, savings have to come from somewhere -- and soon.

That has many fearing the closure of TRUSD schools, like Fairbanks Elementary School in Sacramento.

"This school is very important to the community. Everybody around here, every nationality, everybody needs this school,” Thomas said. “I don't even understand why they want to come over here and mess with this school. I mean where are these guys gonna go?”

Even though the district said it's not so, Thomas and others have the idea that Fairbanks and eight other schools may be affected because of a report posted to the district's website on Oct. 1.

It was released by the Twin Rivers' Student Housing Committee, a group formed to look at the best way to group kids on campuses as it relates to grade levels, school size and staffing.

Under possible consolidations for next school year, page 55 of 64 lists out sites that could close or be combined and the savings that would be achieved. The total comes close to that current $3.8 million budget deficit.

District representatives would not go on camera to talk about the plan or the state of community concerns, saying in an email that "there are no recommendations yet from the Student Housing Committee to close any schools."

A teacher from one of the listed schools said she believes the district is tip-toeing around the truth.

"Either way it sounds, it doesn't sound like the school is going to be left open," she said. "We're told to improve students academically and we work as a unit, as a family. Then to find out the neighborhood school may close, it's kind of sad."

A letter from the superintendent sent to parents last week reads in part:

Any discussion around school consolidations/closures can be intense, painful and highly emotional. Unfortunately that's the collective reality … .

Two of Samantha Baker's seven kids go to another listed school, Noralto Elementary School. She said she got no such letter.

"This is close to my home and it would be inconvenient for them to go somewhere else," Baker said.

A few blocks away, Thomas was still very disturbed.

"This is the heart of this community right here and you're going to take that away from them? What else you gonna take away from them?" she asked.

The report by the Student Housing Committee will be discussed by the district's board of trustees at Thursday’s meeting.

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