Don’t Close or Consolidate Our Elementary Schools

  • by: Cheri Aguiar
  • recipient: Calaveras Unified School District Board Members

CUSD Board Members: Don’t Close or Consolidate Our Elementary Schools

Remove the “Upcountry Schools” consolidation options from the list of Phase II cuts (Upcountry includes Mokelumne Hill, Rail Road Flat & West Point Elementary Schools)

We understand that the district is faced with very difficult decisions. However, we urge you to fully understand what the research has to say about school consolidation. We also implore that you listen to the voices of community members whose lives will be adversely affected by such a decision: community members who you have been elected to represent. Consolidation has long lasting ramifications for children and communities and is not meant to be a spontaneous decision made out of desperation. Consolidation is a shortsighted option that will be detrimental to our communities and county as a whole.

Consolidation: Expert advice based on research
“Financial claims about widespread benefits of consolidation are unsubstantiated by contemporary research about cost savings and learning…Impoverished places, in particular, often benefit from smaller schools and districts, and can suffer irreversible damage if consolidation occurs…Consider other measures to improve fiscal efficiency or educational services.” (National Education Policy Center, 2011)

“The public school is important to the rural community both socially and economically…Small schools help increase the number of economically productive adults and cut government costs…Towns that lost their schools had a lower social and fiscal capacity compared to towns that maintained their schools. Other reports have also indicated that when a community loses a school, the tax base and fiscal capacity of the district is negatively affected…Bussing students to and from schools adds another dimension to the consolidation issue. [Research has] found that achievement scores were reduced by 2.6 points for fourth grade students for every hour spent riding a bus.” (National Rural Education Association Consolidation Task Force, 2005)

“School and school district consolidation produces fewer fiscal benefits and more fiscal costs than is popularly believed. Administrative cost savings are most likely, but these savings may often be largely offset by other cost increases, especially for transportation. Consolidating schools can also adversely affect the local economy, reducing the fiscal capacity of the school district. These costs are disproportionately imposed on poor and minority communities.” (The Rural School & Community Trust, 2003)

“The consequences impact both schools and the community…the financial costs of closing schools are often underestimated, starting with a miscalculation of one-time expenditures for moving students, staff and supplies…Another potential financial cost is the loss of per-pupil funding if students opt out of public schools altogether…In addition to the direct economic costs of closing schools, there are numerous indirect costs affecting both education and the community. For instance, studies indicate that schools located outside a neighborhood reduce the extra-curricular activities of the students, as well as the active involvement of parents.

“Schools are also key indicators of community vitality and sustainability. They influence where families choose to live, property values and tax revenues, and the pace and location of residential and commercial development. Neighborhood schools play multiple roles, not only providing facilities for teaching and learning, but offering resources to help meet the social, recreational, health and personal needs of the community. This is especially true in small or rural locations where schools are among the few public facilities that can provide meeting space, serve as recreation centers, and offer adult education.

“Areas without good schools do not readily attract young families, and closing schools can decrease nearby property values. Communities already afflicted by lost jobs and homes will be shaken further by the closing of a neighborhood school, particularly if the decision-making process has been acrimonious. Fallout from strained community relations, such as eroded confidence in decision making or withdrawn support for municipal bond measures, can affect school boards for years.” (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2011)

Consolidation: Expert voices from the community
Our schools are the hearts of our communities. We value the wisdom contained in the research above and echo the sentiments expressed at previous school board meetings. Closing schools closes communities. The decision to close these schools would mark the beginning of a “spiral of death” not only for our towns, but for the district as a whole.

All of the undersigned oppose consolidating or closing our schools and some of us are specifically:

  • Families who will leave the district to pursue alternate forms of education such as homeschooling or charter schools, should school closure or consolidation occur.
  • Families who will move out of the district and/or county, should school closure or consolidation occur.
  • Community members who do not have school age children, but who are opposed to this rash decision that would have a detrimental impact on our towns, district and county as a whole.

We insist that the Board move forward with an alternate plan that does not include the closure or consolidation of Mokelumne Hill, Rail Road Flat or West Point Elementary Schools.

Let us work together toward a solution that does not include the loss of additional jobs or closure of schools.

Let us work together toward fair and equitable cuts that do not destroy our communities.

Thank you for your consideration and action.

CUSD Board Members: Don’t Close or Consolidate Our Elementary Schools


Remove the “Upcountry Schools” consolidation options from the list of Phase II cuts (Upcountry includes Mokelumne Hill, Rail Road Flat & West Point Elementary Schools)


We understand that the district is faced with very difficult decisions. However, we urge you to fully understand what the research has to say about school consolidation. We also implore that you listen to the voices of community members whose lives will be adversely affected by such a decision: community members who you have been elected to represent. Consolidation has long lasting ramifications for children and communities and is not meant to be a spontaneous decision made out of desperation. Consolidation is a shortsighted option that will be detrimental to our communities and county as a whole.


Consolidation: Expert advice based on research
“Financial claims about widespread benefits of consolidation are unsubstantiated by contemporary research about cost savings and learning…Impoverished places, in particular, often benefit from smaller schools and districts, and can suffer irreversible damage if consolidation occurs…Consider other measures to improve fiscal efficiency or educational services.” (National Education Policy Center, 2011)


“The public school is important to the rural community both socially and economically…Small schools help increase the number of economically productive adults and cut government costs…Towns that lost their schools had a lower social and fiscal capacity compared to towns that maintained their schools. Other reports have also indicated that when a community loses a school, the tax base and fiscal capacity of the district is negatively affected…Bussing students to and from schools adds another dimension to the consolidation issue. [Research has] found that achievement scores were reduced by 2.6 points for fourth grade students for every hour spent riding a bus.” (National Rural Education Association Consolidation Task Force, 2005)


“School and school district consolidation produces fewer fiscal benefits and more fiscal costs than is popularly believed. Administrative cost savings are most likely, but these savings may often be largely offset by other cost increases, especially for transportation. Consolidating schools can also adversely affect the local economy, reducing the fiscal capacity of the school district. These costs are disproportionately imposed on poor and minority communities.” (The Rural School & Community Trust, 2003)


“The consequences impact both schools and the community…the financial costs of closing schools are often underestimated, starting with a miscalculation of one-time expenditures for moving students, staff and supplies…Another potential financial cost is the loss of per-pupil funding if students opt out of public schools altogether…In addition to the direct economic costs of closing schools, there are numerous indirect costs affecting both education and the community. For instance, studies indicate that schools located outside a neighborhood reduce the extra-curricular activities of the students, as well as the active involvement of parents.


“Schools are also key indicators of community vitality and sustainability. They influence where families choose to live, property values and tax revenues, and the pace and location of residential and commercial development. Neighborhood schools play multiple roles, not only providing facilities for teaching and learning, but offering resources to help meet the social, recreational, health and personal needs of the community. This is especially true in small or rural locations where schools are among the few public facilities that can provide meeting space, serve as recreation centers, and offer adult education.


“Areas without good schools do not readily attract young families, and closing schools can decrease nearby property values. Communities already afflicted by lost jobs and homes will be shaken further by the closing of a neighborhood school, particularly if the decision-making process has been acrimonious. Fallout from strained community relations, such as eroded confidence in decision making or withdrawn support for municipal bond measures, can affect school boards for years.” (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2011)


Consolidation: Expert voices from the community
Our schools are the hearts of our communities. We value the wisdom contained in the research above and echo the sentiments expressed at previous school board meetings. Closing schools closes communities. The decision to close these schools would mark the beginning of a “spiral of death” not only for our towns, but for the district as a whole.


All of the undersigned oppose consolidating or closing our schools and some of us are specifically:



  • Families who will leave the district to pursue alternate forms of education such as homeschooling or charter schools, should school closure or consolidation occur.

  • Families who will move out of the district and/or county, should school closure or consolidation occur.

  • Community members who do not have school age children, but who are opposed to this rash decision that would have a detrimental impact on our towns, district and county as a whole.


We insist that the Board move forward with an alternate plan that does not include the closure or consolidation of Mokelumne Hill, Rail Road Flat or West Point Elementary Schools.


Let us work together toward a solution that does not include the loss of additional jobs or closure of schools.


Let us work together toward fair and equitable cuts that do not destroy our communities.


Thank you for your consideration and action.

Update #26 years ago
Thank you to those who presented the petition and spoke on behalf of saving our schools at the last Board meeting. Unfortunately, Superintendent Campbell recommended that cuts should consist of consolidation option #2, which would effectively CLOSE Moke Hill and Rail Road Flat Elementary schools. Next board meeting: Tuesday, 10/28 at 5:30 at the District Office.
http://mokehill.org/2014/10/superintendent-recommends-school-closures/
https://www.facebook.com/smallbutmightysaveourschools?ref=hl
Update #16 years ago
Thank you for signing the CUSD petition. When combined with paper signatures, we have received support from more than 300 parents and community members to date!

Please continue to support the effort by attending and speaking at the next CUSD Board meeting, scheduled for tonight, Tuesday, October 21, 2014. The meeting will be held at the CUSD Administrative Office, IMC Training Room (Green Building, 2nd Floor). Open Session begins at 5:30pm.

Thank you!
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