Vallejo school board postpones closures

November 19, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
People in Vallejo gave a textbook example Thursday night of how to make a difference with public officials. The school board was ready to vote on school closures immediately, but now the board is considering new options.

The people tried just about every persuasive tactic they could think of to try and keep the Vallejo school board from closing schools.

They made threats such as "If you take our schools away, we will sue the school district."

They offered suggestions such as "You want solutions? Cut the superintendant. You want solutions? Cut the catering."

They promised to help by saying "We want to work with you."

The board members heard something in the hour of public comment that changed their minds. They came here ready to vote on whether to close three or four schools. Instead, they voted unanimously to postpone the decision.

"We have many questions we have some answers. It would be irresponsible to make a decision without all the answers," said school board vice president Ward Stewart.

"I definitely feel like we made a difference. I think that they're starting to listen to us," said teacher Loree Tackmier.

They had a lot to say, they made a lot of signs, but are they really ready to be a part of the solution? The board now wants to figure out how to get people to come to school, to increase their ADA, or average daily attendance, because that means more state money. One percent ADA recovery represents $860,000 for the school district.

They also want to look into building a magnet school so they could possibly attract more students to the district. They are talking about closing schools right now because they have lost 4,000 students in the past nine years.

"I'm glad that it wasn't made tonight. I think they need that extra time," said parent Lon Rae Holmes.

The vote is now scheduled for December 16, but board members admit, that too could be postponed if they aren't ready. Regardless, they will eventually run out of time. If they don't find some money, they'll have to cut people on March 15th.


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