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Twin Rivers (Calif.) district mulls closing schools

The Sacramento area school system says it needs to make cuts because of enrollment drops and too many campuses.

The Twin Rivers (Calif.) Unified School District is looking at whether it should close several schools because of declining enrollment, a $3.8 million budget deficit, and an inefficient structure that has resulted in too many campuses.

The Sacramento Bee reports that Superintendent Steve Martinez has told parents that despite $16.9 million in budget cuts over the past two years, it hasn't been enough.

According to Martinez, Twin Rivers’ 46 K-12 schools have 15 different grade configurations. The result is underenrolled schools and staffing inefficiencies.

Twin Rivers Unified has an enrollment of about 25,000 students.

Based on recommendations from the Student Housing Committee, formed in March to review district policies, Twin Rivers plans to adopt a structure with four grade configurations:

•Grades K-6 (700 capacity) and K-8 (900 capacity) for elementary.

•Grades 7-8 (1,000 capacity) for intermediate.

•Grades 9-12 (2,000 capacity) for secondary.

Martinez says the Student Housing Committee has not yet made any recommendations for specific school closures, but it has considered five scenarios that involve closing schools.

Some of the recommendations include closing Allison and Hillsdale elementary schools, both K-6, and closing Highlands High School and moving all students to Foothill High School. Other schools that remain open would expand their grade levels to accommodate more students.

 In the 2017-18 school year, the district's enrollment dropped by 465 students, and is projected this year to decline by another 285 students.

By consolidating schools, or even closing some, the district can reduce its structural deficit for the 2020-21 school year, the district said – potentially saving $500,000 per school.

Martinez plans to hold a series of community meetings in November and December to tell parents about next steps and how they would affect the district and its students.

“I want to acknowledge that any discussion around school consolidation/closures can be intense, painful and highly emotional,” Martinez says. “Unfortunately, that’s the collective reality for our Twin Rivers school community.”

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