Superintendent Kent Kern Tuesday night will recommend San Juan Unified School District board members approve a controversial proposal to shift Citrus Heights Elementary students to Carriage Drive Elementary, and move Sylvan Middle School students over to an $18.2 million modernized Citrus Heights Elementary campus, saying it’s a cost-efficient way to handle problems with Sylvan’s deteriorating building and declining enrollment.
Rejecting a popular proposal from vocal parents who advocate rebuilding the 76-year-old Sylvan school, Kern’s closure-and-consolidation recommendation would cost $10-20 million less than the $44 million estimated to rebuild the school — or the $30.8 million now estimated to “fix” it, according to recommendation documents included in the Board’s October 28 agenda packet.
Kern’s closure recommendation also highlights declining enrollment figures which show Citrus Heights schools are only utilizing 63 percent of their enrollment capacity, indicating while 2016-17 projected K-8 enrollment is 5,085 students, there’s unused capacity for over 3,000 more pupils.
Upset parents have vowed to show up in numbers at Tuesday’s meeting, as they did at a September 25 forum last month, pushing for a “state-of-the-art” rebuilt Sylvan, or at least a one-year delay on a final decision to allow more time to consider funding options and other alternatives. They have also brought the matter up during public comment at several recent city council meetings, emphasizing their desire for closeby “neighborhood schools” and citing concerns about displacing students — particularly those with special needs.
According to Kern’s recommendation documents, staff “considered and investigated” potentially delaying a decision, but rejected the idea “after speaking with members of city council as well as the city planning department, and considering the other impacts.”
Vice Mayor Sue Frost wrote in a recent newsletter that “schools are not under the purview of the city council,” but said she wrote a letter to the SJUSD Board regarding the matter.
“In my letter to the School Board, I have supported the parents in their effort to save Sylvan Middle School if at all possible, and if not, I have request[ed] that the Board please make the transition as easy on students and parents as possible,” the vice mayor said in her October 27 newsletter. She also said several council members will be present at Tuesday’s Board meeting.
Although the Board will hear the matter Tuesday night, a final vote is expected at its November 18 meeting.
View the full recommendation documents in the October 28 board agenda packet here:
San Juan Unified School District
Board of Education meeting
October 28, 2014
3738 Walnut Avenue