April 27, 2011 | Back to: Opinion

Cash-strapped school district ends transfer agreement

Faced with dwindling enrollment and state funding, Grass Valley School District's Board of Trustees voted late Tuesday to not renew an interdistrict transfer agreement with Union Hill School District.

Superintendent Eric Fredrickson said in each grade an average of 35 students who live in the Grass Valley School District are attending Union Hill School under the agreement.

"Primarily it's financial," Fredrickson said of the decision. "We lose revenue for each one of those students, at about $5,000 per student.

"But is it all about dollars? That (loss of funding) transfers into program. We have a lot of programs we want to do, but don't have the money because we're losing enrollment."

With a total of 292 students on interdistrict transfer at Union Hill, Grass Valley School District potentially loses up to $1.4 million in the current school year's revenue limit per student, according to Fredrickson.

Fredrickson said the board voted to allow students currently enrolled in grades K-7 to continue through eighth grade at Union Hill, a one-school district just east of Grass Valley on Highway 174. Also, younger siblings of those students who enroll within the next two years will also be allowed to attend.

Two other options considered were allowing only current seventh-grade students to complete their final year at Union Hill or grandfathering only current K-7 students enrolled through their eighth-grade year.

Fredrickson found himself in an odd situation over the issue, as he had previously served as principal at Union Hill School when the agreement was made between the district superintendents and board. He also served as superintendent for two years at Union Hill prior to coming to Grass Valley.

"When I was there I was doing everything I can to support (Union Hill)," he said. "Now I'm putting the same energy in here that I did there.

"That's why this was so hard."

Going forward, Fredrickson said he and other superintendents must search all avenues for additional revenue along with opportunity to cut expenses. That includes consolidation of schools, he said, on which the County Superintendent of Schools recently conducted a study.

He considers himself a proponent of consolidation to the point of taking discussion "to the next level of study we need to do on the overall impact on program. If it generated more revenue for the school district and made us run more efficiently, I'm for it."

Another recent decision Fredrickson has made will bring both Scotten Elementary and Lyman Gilmore Middle schools under the leadership of one principal. With Gilmore Principal Brian Buckley retiring this spring, Fredrickson has appointed Scotten Principal John Baggett to serve as principal and director of educational program for the two campuses that sit adjacent on Gilmore Way.

Fredrickson announced that Hennessey Elementary School has received a $289,000 grant to fund a science and technology academy at its South Auburn Street site. The competitive grant was issued to 20 school districts around the state, Fredrickson said.

The new program, which is in its early stages of development, gives Grass Valley School District parents another option to consider.

"Parents are looking for options," he said. "You can still have a traditional school feel and setting, but you've got to offer something unique in addition to offering a good quality program and education."

To contact City Editor Brian Hamilton,

e-mail bhamilton@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4249.

Brian Hamilton
bhamilton@theunion.com

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The Union Updated Apr 27, 2011 11:10PM Published Apr 27, 2011 11:09PM Copyright 2011 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.