Housing bust claims Brentwood school as victim


"It's bittersweet," said Ray Witte, principal of Old River Elementary in Brentwood. "The school was built on the anticipation of future housing that was going in right next door here."

Old River opened in July 2008, a product of all the new home communities springing up around it. But thanks to the housing bust and the lingering recession, Old River never reached its 400 pupil capacity.

"It's very sad, lots of emotions; this has been a great place for my son to start kindergarten," parent Lisa Matienzo said.

The school is part of the small Knightsen School District, which has to close a $350,000 deficit in its $4 million budget. And with the housing boom gone bust, Old River must close.

"I'm sad, but I'm happy that I'm going to another school," kindergartner Evan Matienzo said.

The 150 students who now attend the school will transfer to the tiny district's only other elementary school, Knightsen Elementary, for the fall term. The six teachers, including sixth grade instructor Michele Bain will also transfer or go on sabbatical.

"At least we didn't get laid off," said Bain.

The school itself will be locked tight, with the hope that the economy will rebound and someday Old River can re-open.

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