Concerned parents meet with district leaders over a plan to close a local school

The plan is save money, but not everyone agrees

BAKERSFIELD - Angry parents concerned over shutting down a school in the El Tejon Unified School District are speaking out.  The plan is intended to save money, but not everyone agrees.

"The interest is our kids, number one.  So, we have to find a need, we have to find the financials that we need and we need to start cutting," said a woman at the forum.

"How come we do not have money? Have we not been making cuts? Have we been spending money where we shouldn't be?" asked a man from the community.

"Let this community help you.  Please do not put these students together," said a concerned parent.

Declining enrollment and the lack of state funding is forcing leaders with the district to revise their budget.  They hired an outside consulting group to look for ways to cut back and one recommendation is to close El Tejon Unified School District's junior high school.  It's a proposal not sitting well with many parents.

"Downsizing is never the answer.  As a business person, we have to look for other ways to cut things and look at the books we have now and see how we're spending our money now and where we can make cuts because downsizing is never the answer.  You're never going to grow that way," said concerned parent, Susie McMahon.

If El Tejon School closes - 7th and 8th graders will be forced to attend the Frazier Mountain High School.  Parents say mixing the grades would cause several problems among younger students who may be influenced by older students to smoke or even do drugs.

"I understand the elementary kids, I agree with the k-6.  I've never like the Tehon set up where it was 4-8th, I just don't believe 8 and 9-year-olds belong with 12 and 13-year-olds," said parent, Staci Watson.

The community hopes the five member school board will table any decision at their November board meeting because after the elections -- the group could possibly have four new faces.

"This decision is very, very difficult and the one thing that we don't want to do is eliminate the public's input on what is the right decision for the students in this district and so I was very pleased that so many people attended and were willing to share their opinions," said Katie Kleier, district superintendent.

Area parents will continue to voice their concern over the debate.  Board plans for another community forum November 7th.

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