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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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May 2, 2012     Feather River Bulletin
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May 2, 2012
 

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, May 2, 2012 Citizens Guide to School Closure ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: , ............  . Reporting by: Delaine Fragnoli Managing Editor Alicia Knadler Indian Valley Editor Jason Theobald Staff Writer Mona Hill Debra Moore Ingrid Burke Staff Writer Staff Writer Copy Editor 's no exaggeration to say that three men and one woman hold the fate of Plumas County in their hands..In thenext !! few weeks, the four members of the Plumas Unified School District governing board (they are expected to appoint a fifth member at their special meeting tonight) will decide whether or not to close a school or several schools. Few public decisions carry with them the far-reaching effects a school closure can have on a community. More than any other crisis we have reported on, the potential for school closure has citizens questioning the very livability of Plumas County. We have seen industries come and go. We have seen businesses close. We have seen our demographics shift until we have the oldest population of any county in California. Yes, folks have left Plumas County in response to these changes. But the specter of a community without a school portends a full-scale exodus. If and when they leave, they won't leave just their town they will leave Plumas County altogether. Already we have heard reportsrom ir:wes:to who say they won't buy property in Plumas County because of the uncertain school situa- tion. Many fear property values will plummet following a school closure. According to a survey by the Indian Valley 7-11 Committee, 41.2 percent of respondents said they would move out of Plumas County if all the high schools were consolidated into one in Quincy. More than 30 percent said they would move out of the county if the district closed Green- ville High School. Why are we even considering school closures? A 20-year trend of declining enrollment, state cuts to education funding and an uncertain funding status between Basic Aid and Revenue Limit have contributed to the problem. Estimated districtwide enrollment for next year is 1,800 students in 10 facilities spread across the county. According to the district, PUSD will deficit spend by $2.8 millio for the 2012-13 school year. If the district takes no action, it could deficit spend to the tune of $6 million for the next academic year. At that rate, it will spend down its reserve in a matter of two years. Many folks have criticized the district's budgeting and accused it of "cry wolf" accounting. Some contend the district will overspend by just $1.3 million this year. Hanging over all the budget deliberations is a cloud of uncertainty. Just what the state will end up doing with education funding c;r what the outcome of November's ballot measure will be is anyone's guess at this point. If PUSD holds on to its Revenue Limit funding, the preferred funding model; it wilt ................ likely see "adjustments" there as the state asks .... such districts to pay their "fair share." Or, the state could come up with an entirely different mechanism for calculating aid. In response to this situation, the school board established a school closure, or 7-11, committee in each Plumas County population center to study how facilities might be consolidated. Their findings are outlined inside this guide, along with earlier recommendations from the district-appointed Facilities Advisory Committee and district administration. If ever an issue called for civic engagement, this is it. We urge you to read this guide, attend a school board meeting or contact school board members. We said earlier that school trustees hold the fate of Plumas County in their hands. Ultimately, they are the decision makers. But we can help inform those decisions. This guide is Feather Publishing's contribution to that discussion. i;i::: ! ........ ...... .  ::!=fi!,ii?!:,: ': ..... [i::::::: ! : ; :i:..