SCHOOL CLOSURE ISSUE GOES TO BOARD WOES: DISTRICT FACING $6 MILLION IN CUTS DUE TO DECLINING ENROLLMENT, STATE BELT TIGHTENING.
THOUSAND OAKS -- The Conejo Valley Unified School District board was expected to vote late Tuesday on whether to close two elementary schools, prompting parents and students to protest at the school board meeting.
School officials have recommended closing University and Meadows elementary schools effective fall 2009 as the district braces for about $6 million in cuts next year due to declining enrollment and state belt tightenting.
The vote follows months of anxiety and speculation, officials said.
More than 500 parents and community members attended a public meeting on March 4 when the school district's facilities board, which made the recommendation to shutter the schools, took questions. Some 220 speaker cards were submitted, and 80 people spoke over the course of three hours.
"The school closure has pitted school communities against each other, and has become a very divisive issue in the city," the district's facilities committee said in a summary of the public comments.
The committee said it had spent 10 months considering which schools to close.
The controversy spilled over to the Thousand Oaks City Council meeting also held Tuesday evening, with some parents bringing their concerns to the city officials.
The school district's facilities committee also recommended placing a sales or parcel tax on the November 2008 ballot to preserve and improve the 20 remaining elementary schools and to find other places to cut.