Grass Valley and Nevada City schools have decided to postpone talks of consolidating the two school districts — at least until the Gov. Jerry Brown’s finalized budget is proposed.
Grass Valley School District decided it was not the best time to proceed in the consolidation process at its Feb. 12 board meeting, and Nevada City School District agreed at its board meeting Feb. 26. Grass Valley School District sent out a press release Wednesday, citing financial uncertainty as the reason for halting the talks.
“One of the things that had been in the back of their mind was the impact that the local control funding formula proposed by the governor could have on that process, so they just felt with that uncertainty, to move forward in the process at this time was not a good idea,” said Eric Fredrickson, GVSD superintendent.
The two boards agreed at their last consolidation meeting Jan. 24 to revisit the consolidation process March 5, but Fredrickson said that waiting until that date would be unnecessary when the process should be halted now.
“At the last consolidation meeting, we had one member that was concerned, because they felt like they had heard all they could hear at this point about what the process entailed,” Fredrickson said. “They had time to reflect on it between that meeting and the next and said you know what, until you know more, there’s really not more information that we feel we need to move forward with.”
Fredrickson mentioned that scant involvement by the community, since the talks began six months ago, was cause for concern.
“There’s more community that needs to be involved. It really surprised me after five meetings that there were not that many people engaged in it,” Fredrickson said
“When you talk about consolidation, you’re talking about dissolving both boards and starting the whole system over again and that’s substantial change because there could be another community group that got together and tried to pursue this.
“It doesn’t have to be a school board.”
The preservationist group Friends of Nevada City Elementary agreed with the halt in the consolidation process.
“We would certainly like to see the districts just nix this whole thing,” said Laurie Oberholtzer, a Nevada City resident and supporter of Friends of NCE.
“I believe if it goes to a vote in Nevada City that it would fail because I think it will be unpopular in the Nevada City community. It’s important to our identity to keep our own school district.”
The boards had been discussing the financial impact on consolidating and until the dissolution of the discussion for the time being, had found no reason to not continue.
“There is concern of the effect the governor’s local funding proposal for funding education would have on a consolidation because it’s the way the funding weights would be allocated and they’re afraid that by consolidating, there could be less revenue than if we stayed a part,” said Paula Campbell, board president, Nevada City School District.
“I think we made a lot of good progress in talking to each other, but the revenue has to be there in order for consolidation to work,” Campbell said.
“To have less revenue doesn’t make sense. I’m certain when it gets closer to when the budget will be planned for next year, we will know what track we are on.”
The discussion on consolidation will be re-evaluated when the finalized state budget is proposed, Campbell said.
“Until we know something hard and fast, it’s impossible for the two districts to pass a resolution,” Campbell said.
“The boards do not feel comfortable without having more information of the impact of this big change in education.”
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“We would certainly like to see the districts just nix this whole thing.”
— Laurie Oberholtzer, Nevada City