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Opinion

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Jerry Budrick
06/12/2014 2:15 PM

Dale Haney

Guest Commentary

Drastic reconfiguration changes are being proposed to our schools. Superintendent Dick Glock and the school board are considering options ranging from having one large high school and one large junior high school to leaving everything as status quo. Every option except leaving as status quo will result in the closure of a school(s).

Of the various options, the one that seems to be getting the most laser-like focus is combining both high schools into one, with Amador being the designated campus, and combining Ione Junior High and Jackson Junior High into one, with Argonaut being its campus. Ione Elementary would move to where Ione Junior High sits now. End result – closing of Ione Elementary School and Jackson Junior High.

Thus far, public sentiment is overwhelmingly against this plan; both the Ione City Council and Jackson City Council have recently passed resolutions opposing any school closure in their cities.

A local school binds communities together. Having a local school keeps parents involved in their schooling. Many parents are unable to stay involved when their kids are bussed to other cities and areas. If you lived through the closure of Ione’s High School in 1983 , you will remember how it divided that community. It was a devastating blow that neither Ione nor Jackson wants to bear again.

Jackson lost their Tigers and Ione lost everything else.

Large schools lead to overcrowded classrooms. The students that need the most attention will get left behind. Teacher-student relationships suffer. The closing of any of our schools will not serve our children well.

One example: The Los Angeles County Unified School District had overcrowding problems. They “involuntarily bussed” kids to other schools. Amador County would be hit with a double impact of overcrowded schools as well as “involuntary bussing.” Here is what the Environmental Impact Report said:

“Classroom overcrowding also has a negative impact on student performance. Studies show that students in overcrowded classrooms do not score as high on achievement tests as students in non-overcrowded classrooms.

Involuntary bussing also has a negative impact on academic performance and quality of life. Students subject to involuntary bussing do not perform as well academically as students who are not involuntarily bussed.

As a group, the LAUSD’s students who are bussed involuntarily outside of their neighborhoods have the lowest test scores in the LAUSD.

Bussing children involuntarily for long distances also effectively discourages parents from becoming involved in their children’s school.”

The cost of reconfiguration was quoted at $1 million, a figure that cannot be accurate as we don’t know what plan will be recommended. Today, $1 million gets you a small intersection with no traffic signals. The reconfiguration costs will soar well past the “one million dollar “ figure. The EIR alone will cost several hundred thousand dollars, or is there no plan for that?

We are coming through the worst economic times I have ever seen. It has been a tough road for everyone. Families, cities and communities have all been affected.

Over the last several years many people have lost their homes to foreclosure. Homeowners and tenants alike have been affected. Jobs have been lost. People have moved. Clearly this would account for much of the school enrollments being lack-luster in the recent past but trying to solve a problem from four years ago with drastic measures today is not the answer.

The problem is correcting itself.

Ione had nearly 200 homes built and purchased over the last few years, with hundreds more to come in the near future. Many of those homes will have school-aged children. Neither Ione nor Jackson wants to feel the devastating effects of lower property values, another possible consequence of school closures. People purchase homes where there are schools – closing schools will affect the community both socially and economically.

Jackson surely doesn’t want to lose its high school this go-around. Jackson is the county seat and it will take a toll on businesses as well. Neither Ione nor Jackson wants to bear the burden of another school closure in their community.

I urge you to make sure you are informed and notify your elected officials of how you feel. The school superintendent and the school board members were elected to represent you and the communities as a whole and to do what is best for our children.

Copyright © 2014 Amador Ledger Dispatch
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