Parents speak up against school closures


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The school district considered closing any one of the following schools: Cave, Cooper, Loma Vista, Mare Island, Pennycook, Wardlaw, and Widenmann.

The goal is to save $1.5 million a year by closing possibly three elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school.

"How do you plan to salvage a neighborhood and its housing values when it has an indefinitely closed school as a front and back yard for so many home owners?" says parent Theresa Garcia.

Over the past decade, enrollment in Vallejo Unified School District has declined by 4,000 students -- equivalent to a loss of $20 million in state funding.

"And I can speak for a lot of parents who will take their students out of this school. You will lose even more money," says parent Lisa Kelly.

The district says the main factors are a 24 percent decline in Vallejo's birth rate, foreclosures, loss of jobs and affordable housing elsewhere. The district says many Latino families, which represent a third of all students here moved to the Midwest.

"Fairfield just closed four schools over the summer. Vacaville has also closed schools, so this is something that's happening all over the state," says Jason Hodge, a spokesperson for the Vallejo Unified School District.

Now surrounding schools districts that used to deny intra-district transfers are now welcoming those students. Each one is worth about $5,000 annually in state funds. Trustees will also weigh the cost of transporting students to other schools.

"We have to decide what's right and wrong and human interest is taken into consideration here. It's not just about the numbers," says Raymond Mommsen, the school board trustee.

"Cave school is like a home and if you take Cave away it's just like taking my home away. Don't you see what cave means to us?" says Cave Elementary student Olivia Otis.

On Thursday, Hogan High will argue its case for survival. Eleven schools are trying to dodge the ax when it falls on November 19th.

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