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SCHOOL NEWS: Coyotes, Red Ink & Involuntary Summer

By Jackie Burrell
Friday, December 12th, 2008 at 2:28 pm in Schools.

School signThese are bizarre times for schools. Down in San Ramon, they’re fretting over coyote sightings. One was spotted sleeping under the marquee at Pine Valley Middle School (perhaps he missed the bus). Others have been seen at Bollinger Canyon, Live Oak and Quail Run elementary schools, and in the parking lot at California High. Ya know, they probably heard about San Ramon’s high test scores and were checking out interdistrict transfers for the pups.

Meanwhile, West Contra trustees are proceeding with their plans to shutter underenrolled schools, despite, says reporter Kimberly Wetzel, “impassioned and sometimes hostile pleas from hundreds of people asking members to reconsider.” According to Richmond police, some 600 to 800 people showed up at a public hearing Wednesday night – and very very early Thursday morning – to plead their schools’ cases, even though the board has not released a closure list yet. They’re expected to release a list of as many as seven schools – five elementaries, two middle or high schools or any combination thereof – next week. But many attendees were irate because the closure discussions only occurred after Measure D, a school tax, had passed. “Now that you got your Measure D,” one Pinole Valley teen said, “you don’t care about us anymore.”

Mt. Diablo’s school politics remain in their usual agitated state – the board decided not to cut three administrative positions after the NAACP cried foul, and it will retain small class sizes for freshmen, a decision the state may soon render moot with the anticipated, draconian budget cuts ahead –
but we’d much rather talk about the wonderful Mt. Diablo district kids and faculty who have embarked on a slew of community service projects designed to help needy children have a happy holiday.

And in what’s being described as a budgetary “Doomsday scenario,” California
schools may end up shutting down weeks early. The newest estimates have California’s state coffers running dry by February – a month earlier than previously supposed – and no one knows if or how schools will function if no one’s getting paid. The state is planning to issue “warrants” or IOUs to pay its teachers, but the big question is – how do you pay your bills with those? Education insiders are starting to murmur about Oregon, where a massive budget crisis in 2003 had some schools closing their doors for summer in mid-spring.

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