Supervisors voice concern over school closures

Dan McDonald
Staff Writer

Plumas County leaders want to have a say about the fate of the county’s schools.

At their meeting Tuesday, Jan. 17, the county’s Board of Supervisors approved sending a letter to the Plumas Unified School District requesting some communication.

The school district has outlined its recommendations for school closures and faculty layoffs for the 2012-13 academic year.

Although school-board-appointed committees, called 7-11 committees, are in the process of examining cuts, the county supervisors said the school district’s process to date hasn’t been very open.

Chester Junior-Senior High, currently home to a few students from Indian Valley, could see that number rise should the Plumas Unified School District act upon recommendations made at its last regular board meeting and close Greenville High School. Photo by Jason Theobald

Board Chairman Robert Meacher asked the supervisors to send a letter as an emergency item, since the board doesn’t have another scheduled meeting until Feb. 7.

“It seems to me that decisions are being made on our behalf in a vacuum,” Meacher said. “I have not even had a phone call or email on this. That to me indicates a game afoot.”

Meacher said people in his district “were horrified by the fact that nobody from the school district has contacted me that Greenville High School and Taylorsville Elementary are on the short list to be closed.”

In addition to those two schools, the school district has recommended closing Quincy Elementary School. The district has also recommended reducing a number of bus routes.

The cutbacks and closures would eliminate 29 full-time equivalent faculty positions.

The supervisors authorized Meacher to a sign a letter to Plumas Unified School District requesting it “engage the Board of Supervisors in regard to possible closure of schools and consolidation; and concerns with makeup of the committee involved in making these decisions.”

Supervisor Jon Kennedy said he was shocked by how few public members have been attending open committee meetings about the school cuts.

“There was a first 7-11 committee that was going to discuss the consolidation of Pioneer School and Quincy Elementary. That was last week. I think two people from the public showed up,” Kennedy said. “Two people from the public showed up to talk about closing a school in Quincy?

“I think there’s probably a little more concern in this community than that. It hasn’t been advertised or publicized.”

He urged county residents to get involved in the process.

“Whoever’s here (at the Board of Supervisors meeting), start paying attention to what’s going on at the school district,” Kennedy said. “Because I think there is something fishy.”

Meacher said he was told by a former school district superintendent “that time was of the essence. It’s critical. He was blown away that we (county supervisors) weren’t in the loop.”

According to the PUSD administration’s facilities budget study, the closures and cuts could save the district up to $2.5 million a year.

The cuts would still leave the district — which is currently deficit spending $4 million a year — in the red. At the current rate, the district would spend its $12 million reserve in three years.

The district’s recommended cuts are just one set of possibilities school board members will weigh before they make a final decision. That decision is expected in April.

The district will be considering input from the various board-appointed 7-11 committees for each community.

They are called “7-11” because they must have a minimum of seven members and a maximum of 11.

The Indian Valley group meets Tuesday afternoons at 4 p.m. in the Greenville High School library.

Quincy’s committee will hold a public forum Thursday, Jan. 26, and Thursday, Feb. 2, at 6 p.m. A third forum is expected to take place Saturday, Feb. 4, at 10 a.m. All of the Quincy forums are scheduled to be at Quincy High School.

The Chester committee holds its first meeting this afternoon at 4:30 in Room 2 at Chester High School. The Portola committee also convenes this evening at 5 p.m. at the Portola High School library.

The committees are scheduled to make their recommendations to the school board in March.

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