Monday's Modesto City Schools board meeting is full of compelling items — closing Pearson Elementary School next school year, appointing an associate superintendent of curriculum, reorganizing district office administration and starting a dual-language program.
All are important decisions as the district prepares to slice at least $25 million from it's $250 million budget for next school year.
Modesto City Schools would be the third in Stanislaus County to close a school. Stanislaus Union and Empire Union districts closed one each for this school year.
Next to the district office in west Modesto, Pearson Elementary enrolls 280 students in kindergarten and first grades, according to 2008-09 data. It's one of the district's smallest and oldest campuses.
Students would attend Franklin Elementary School, half a mile away. About 670 students in grades two through six attend Franklin.
Officials have met with parents and staff at both schools and formed a steering committee that will continue to meet as the schools consolidate, according to a staff report.
The cost to combine the schools is about $12,000, the report says, but it does not include an estimate on how much the district would save by closing Pearson.
The average costs of running an elementary school are about $400,000, but Pearson is smaller, so savings likely would be less.
Superintendent Arturo Flores' plan to reorganize the district office to consolidate jobs and save money comes to the board for a second time. When last discussed Jan. 19, employee unions raised some objections to the district's figures.
Union leaders called the reorganization a shell game, saying the estimated $2.3 million in savings was misleading because many positions were vacant or being paid through different funds. The tweaked plan would save about $2 million, according to the district.
Trustees directed staff to meet with union representatives to discuss their concerns. The plan for Monday's meeting has not changed much, but it includes a spreadsheet detailing specific costs of the positions being consolidated.
Nine of the 38 positions up for elimination are vacant. The plan would create eight positions.
Administrators propose a dual-language program in which students would be fluent in English and Spanish by the time they finish sixth grade.
The program would start in the fall and would be housed at Fairview and Bret Harte elementary schools in south Modesto. A phone survey showed interest by parents, according to a staff report. The report did not state how many students would enroll.
Officials estimate no cost to the district, since it already has bilingual teachers and curriculum, according to the report. At least three other districts in the county — Turlock, Patterson and Riverbank — offer dual-language programs.
During closed session, trustees could appoint an associate superintendent to fill the vacancy left by Daisy Lee's departure earlier this year. She became superintendent of Galt Union High School District near Sacramento.
Trustees most likely will choose one of the several directors who serve under the three associate superintendents.
Monday's meeting is open to the public and starts at 6 p.m. in the district office board room, 426 Locust St. To see the agenda, go to mcs.monet.k12. ca and click on "board meetings."
Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2339.