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Sebastopol district considers closing another school

For the second time in two years, the Sebastopol School District is examining campus consolidation and possibly closing a school.

Last week the district moved to establish a state-mandated committee to analyze the possibility of selling, leasing or renting surplus property — namely one of the two remaining active Sebastopol City Schools. Applications to be part of the committee are due Monday.

Neither Brook Haven, which serves kindergarten through eighth graders, nor Park Side, which is a K-5 campus, is expected to be closed or reconfigured before the 2014-15 school year, said Superintendent Liz Schott.

"This is not, under any circumstance, a done deal," she said. "This is going to be a lively dialogue."

The district has been through the prospect of a school closure before.

Beset by declining enrollment and ongoing budget woes, district officials in 2011 shuttered Pine Crest Elementary School and began leasing that space on Hayden Avenue to two charter schools. That arrangement generates nearly $200,000 a year but hasn't eliminated the district's chronic deficit spending.

Revenues in the current school year are $5,250,000 while spending is $5.3 million. The trend continues next year when revenues are projected to be $5,018,000 while spending is slated to hit $5.2 million.

Since 2007-08, state revenue to Sonoma County schools has dropped 18 percent. Factoring in the loss of traditional cost-of-living revenue adjustments, the net loss is 20- to 24-percent, Schott said

"We are getting 75 cents on every dollar. That's tough," she said.

At the same time, enrollment has fallen off sharply.


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