The board was scheduled to discuss three proposed elementary school closures–A.M. Winn, Freeport and C.P. Huntington–but only made decisions on two.
Freeport will be closed and C.P. Huntington will remain open, but the board pushed a decision on A.M. Winn back until its next meeting on March 1.
"I think the school should stay open, and if we have to get additional information to make that decision, fine," said Sacramento City Unified School District Trustee Donald Terry, who represents Rosemont and the area including A.M. Winn.
Board members and attendees at the meeting said they were concerned with making elementary school students walk the extra distance to a different school, especially if they would be forced to cross the busy thoroughfares of Bradshaw Road or Routier Road. The state in December eliminated all funding for school buses, although districts now are able to take that funding cut from another area in their budget if they choose.
And there were questions about how much the district would actually save if the school were shuttered, because the flood of former A.M. Winn students to Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Rancho Cordova could require bringing in new portable classrooms and hiring a vice principal, Terry said. Other students would attend James W. Marshall Elementary School in Rosemont if A.M. Winn were closed.
At one point, Superintendent Jonathan Raymond went against the district proposal to close A.M. Winn, saying he wouldn't feel safe letting his soon-to-be kindergartner walk from A.M. Winn to Abraham Lincoln. The single remark sent the board into a lengthy and testy tangent about whether staff recommendations can be trusted, and the board had to take two breaks to regroup the discussion.
Trustee Patrick Kennedy said the board was embarrassing itself.
Terry said that if other board members voted against the closure of C.P. Huntington for safety reasons, they should have done the same for A.M. Winn–regardless of what the superintendent said.
"I just don't get it," Terry said after the meeting, which stretched past 11 p.m.
A.M. Winn had the largest contingency at the meeting, with a dozen speakers urging the board to keep the school open. Among them were four of the five members of Rancho Cordova's City Council.
"Schools are the heart of community life," Rancho Cordova Vice Mayor Linda Budge said before the meeting. "If you take away that school you stab at the heart of that community."
Budge told the district board that Rancho Cordova has seen two schools close in recent years, but in those cases there was a long discussion about what else the buildings could be used for, no renovations were needed to house the students at other schools, and there weren't concerns about making kids walk long distances to a new campus.
Rancho Cordova City Council Member Robert McGarvey presented the district board with a resolution passed by the Rancho Cordova council asking that A.M. Winn be kept open.
As supporters wearing blue "Save A.M. Winn" T-shirts filed out of the meeting, PTA President Karen Reynolds said she didn't understand why the board couldn't vote to keep her school open like it did with C.P. Huntington.
"I have to go home to my son … and explain to him well, we're not OK yet," Reynolds said.
When the district again discusses the possible closure of A.M. Winn on March 1, it will have more detailed information on:
- An updated estimate of the cost to close the school
- An estimate of the cost to retrofit Abraham Lincoln Elementary School to accommodate former A.M. Winn students–and information on where the district would get the money to do that
- An estimate of how much it would cost to change A.M. Winn into a K-8 Waldorf-style school like its neighbor, George Washington Carver, and the cost to create a Russian-immersion program at the school.