Parents, teachers upset over plan to close Twin Rivers schools

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- Fairbanks Elementary School is one of seven schools in the Twin Rivers Unified School District on the potential chopping block after the district announced it is facing challenges with declining enrollment.

Many parents and teachers were not happy over the possibility of their neighborhood school closing its doors for good.

“Immediately they are looking at balancing the shortfall on the backs of our students,” said Rebecca LeDoux, the president of Twin Rivers United Educators.

Twin Rivers Unified Superintendent Steve Martinez said right now, his district averages 543 students per school and he’s seen an enrollment drop of 1,300 students in the last eight years.

“It’s had a serious impact on our overall budget,” Martinez said. “We have a number of schools that are very small and with continuing declining enrollment, they’re going to continue to get smaller.”

With fewer students and an ongoing budget deficit, the school district formed a committee to look into what needs to be done.

One option the committee considered, and ultimately voted down, was closing some schools and moving current students to other schools in the district.

“Most said that they were 'no' to closing schools,” said Student Housing Committee Vice Chair Stacey Bastian.

Bastian told FOX40 after months of research, members found that closing schools would be more harmful to students than good.

“I think it would be traumatic for children, I think it's traumatic for the community and I don’t think that’s a solution to the problem,” Bastian said.

Still, LeDoux said the board seems to be moving forward with the idea, making many in the community feel unheard.

“It’s rather alarming it appears that the district is planning to just move forward with closures anyway and ignore the voice of this committee,” LeDoux said.

She said with consolidated schools, existing classrooms would not be able to accommodate the higher volume of students.

But Superintendent Martinez said the well-being of his students will remain a top priority as the school board inches closer to deciding the next steps.

"We’re going to do everything possible to ease their fears and, in the end, take care of our students and teachers,” he said.

There will be four more community meetings, with plans for the board to vote on the matter in January.

If members decide to close some of the schools, it would impact the fall school year.

A list of schools that could be affected, as well as the dates of the upcoming meetings, can be found below:

Pacific High School, Vista Nueva High School and Nova Opportunity Program would be combined
Noralto Elementary School K through 2 and Harmon Johnson Elementary School would be combined
Babcock Elementary School would be closed
Fairbanks Elementary School would be closed
Hillsdale Elementary School would be closed
Sierra View Elementary School would be closed
Martin Luther King Jr. Technology Academy (first year) would be closed

Community Forums:

Tuesday, Nov. 12, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Highlands High School Gymnasium, 6601 Guthrie St., North Highlands
Wednesday, Nov. 13, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Grant Union High School Gymnasium, 1400 Grand Ave., Sacramento
Thursday, Nov. 14, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Rio Linda High School Gymnasium, 6309 Dry Creek Road, Rio Linda
Tuesday, Dec. 3, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Rio Tierra Junior High School, 3201 Northstead Drive, Sacramento

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