School districts submit petition to consolidate |

School districts submit petition to consolidate

Ready Springs and Pleasant Valley elementary school districts voted in board meetings this week to move forward with the consolidation process.

Both districts submitted a petition, as required by law, to Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Holly Hermansen, to consolidate the two districts into one.

The boards have considered such action after more than a year of public joint board meeting discussions, four additional town hall meetings, and a thorough analysis and positive recommendation from staff and the joint Consolidation Vision Committee, according to a press release.

The location where students attend school and where staff work would not be changed from consolidation and no talk about closing schools or moving staff or students to different sites has been discussed. The community feel of the school would remain the same and the voice of all schools would be heard in any district level considerations, the release stated.

The current school conditions that would not change from consolidation include where students attend school and where staff work.

Consolidation was found to be the least disruptive solution to students, families and school staff, according to the release. Business and administration time would be streamlined and more efficient, and dollars would stay in the classrooms rather than be funneled toward additional administration, which would be required to meet current state and federal reporting requirements.

In June 2012, the Grand Jury released a report encouraging Nevada County school districts to look at district consolidation options. Each board had to prepare a response to the Grand Jury’s recommendations. In the process of those discussions, Pleasant Valley and Ready Springs school districts decided to host a series of joint board meetings, which began in November 2012, to discuss possible expansion and collaboration and whether or not consolidation might be an option.

Last April, the boards established the Consolidation Vision Committee with members from both districts, to look at whether the districts should proceed with the conversation.

It became clear to the committee and boards that it is not possible to meet the current state and federal reporting requirements for the two districts without adding additional district level staff for a minimum cost of $150,000, according to a press release. Consolidating the districts would mean administrative type tasks would be completed for only one district, which would allow funds to remain in the classroom.

According to data of the California Department of Education, Pleasant Valley’s enrollment numbers dropped from 803 in 1996-97 to 724 in 2004-05, continuing to decrease to the 2012-13 numbers of 477.

Ready Springs exhibited similar outcomes, from 705 in 1996-97 down to 254 students in 2012-13.

Currently the two districts share district level administrative staff, including one superintendent for both districts.

The petition the boards approved will be submitted to the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Office, reviewed for accuracy and the next phase in the process will be turned over to the County Committee of District Organization, the press release stated. The county committee will analyze all possible effects of consolidation of the two districts and host public hearings.

“I am very impressed with the intense care that the boards and all of our staff have invested in this decision,” said Superintendent Debby Sandoval in a press release. “No one wants to change the great programs and schools we have developed. We want to protect our students, staff and schools for the future.”

Karen Chizek, a retired Nevada County administrator familiar with the Penn Valley schools and area, said in a press release that she supports the consolidation with hopes that it will “ultimately bring the broader Penn Valley community closer as they realize by doing so, they are increasing the opportunities for all students, creating more opportunities for teachers and staff and reducing redundant operations for district office staff.”

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email or call 530-477-4230.

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