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School bond on hold right now

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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Parents and other residents turned out for controversial agenda items at Wednesday’s Western Placer Unified School District Board meeting at Glen Edwards Middle School. One issue, the proposed boundary changes for the middle schools, drew a group of about 20 parents who didn’t like that idea. If adopted, the resolution would change which elementary schools feed into the district’s two middle schools – Glen Edwards and Twelve Bridges. The reason for the boundary change, said Board President Paul Carras, is to balance the enrollment at the two facilities. According to the agenda packet, Glen Edwards has an enrollment of 641 students and Twelve Bridges had 840 students. Under the proposal, Carlin C. Coppin and Sheridan Elementary Schools would feed into Glen Edwards. Currently, both feed into Twelve Bridges Middle School. Several parents expressed their disappointment at the way they found out about the proposal, which was through word-of-mouth. Ginger Cosh, president of the parent-teacher club at Carlin C. Coppin, called the proposal discriminating and segregating, saying that the breakdown in test scores, ethnicity and socioeconomic background between the two middle schools under the proposal would favor Twelve Bridges as being a more affluent school. “Those numbers are not right,” Cosh said. Other parents echoed her sentiments and suggested that Lincoln Crossing Elementary School, which currently feeds Twelve Bridges, be considered for a switch to Glen Edwards. “I wonder why you didn’t consider Lincoln Crossing,” said Carol Spangler, whose grandchildren are students in the district. “If you look at the test scores, it smacks of reverse discrimination.” Board members were surprised to hear that parents were not notified, having been told at the Dec. 16 meeting that meetings with parents would be held. “It’s really kind of disturbing that there wasn’t enough notice,” said Board Member Paul Long. “I would like to see at least one more meeting before we take action.” The other board members agreed with Long and expressed concern over the lack of communication to the parents. The item was tabled until meetings between parents and administrators can be held to address potential complaints. “We will make sure that we get adequate public notice out,” Carras said. Western Placer Unified School District Board’s Teachers’ Association head Mike Agrippino pointed out that the teachers were not involved with the boundary changes. The second major agenda item was the survey results conducted by Godbe Research to determine if a $222-million bond measure would receive 55 percent of votes necessary under Prop. 39 to pass if a special election is called in June. Bryan Godbe, president of Godbe Research, said that total support for the bond would be 42 percent with a 4.8-percent margin of error, falling well short of the necessary 55 percent. “You do need to step back a bit,” Godbe told the board. “This should not be on the June, 2009 ballot.” The telephone survey, conducted from Jan. 5 to Jan. 9, included a sampling of 400 of the approximately 14,500 voters, Godbe said. The most important general issue asked about was reducing crime. Building new school facilities – a major portion of the bond measure – got the least support. Improving the quality of education, however, was the second-most important issue among respondents, while preventing tax increases fell in the middle of the range of the eight topics discussed, according to Godbe. “I’m not surprised at the results,” said board member Brian Haley. The board members all agreed more communication to the public is necessary before a bond measure will pass. “We’ve done a good job talking about our needs internally,” Carras said, “but we need to get that message out.” Long said it will be necessary to explain how the money from the 1993 bond – the only other bond the school district had – was spent. Chief among bond support, according to Godbe, was that none of the money will go to administrators’ salaries. “I hate taxes and I hate bonds but it seems like the last chance we have to get what we need,” said Keith Schmidt, who has two young children. Haley added that educating the public could take a long time and that the bond could be “several years away.” The board decided not to vote on moving forward with the bond.