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MPUSD parents weigh in on school consolidation

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MONTEREY, Calif. (KION) The Monterey Peninsula Unified School District board will hear what parents have to say about the consolidation of schools at a meeting Tuesday night.

Foothill Elementary is one of the schools the district is considering consolidating, which means that students would be moved from there to other schools within the district.

The major reason behind the consideration to consolidate come 2022 is declining enrollment. The district has seen a 10 percent decline over the last 10 years.

“This year alone we lost 500 plus students. We think that’s primarily because of the pandemic,” MPUSD Superintendent PK Diffenbaugh said.

The district has already decided to move to a transitional kindergarten through 6th grade model, so starting next year, current 5th graders will stay at their elementary schools for one more year.

But as for consolidation, here are the different plans they’re considering:

  • Scenario 1: Highland Elementary students would move to MLK Jr. School of the arts, and Foothill Elementary students would go to Del Rey Woods Elementary or La Mesa Elementary.
  • Scenario 2, Highland students would move to MLK Jr. or Del Rey Woods, and Foothill students would go to La Mesa.
  • TK-8 Model: The district would consolidate Foothill and Highland, and reconfigure Monte Vista and La Mesa into TK-8 over a three year phase-in period. They would also phase out and consolidate Walter Colton Middle School over three years.

Some MPUSD parents say they're on board with what the district is proposing.

“We were a little bit nervous about the transition into the middle school. I’ve got two kids at Monte Vista right now, but we’ve been so happy with the leadership from the principal, Dr. Ashby at Monte Vista that I think it’s a great idea to have them all under one umbrella,” Rebecca Eskenasy said.

The district says certain schools were picked for consolidation specifically due to their enrollment levels.

But there are some potential challenges on the way; some students may not be able to walk to their new school and may need to take the bus.

As for teachers, MPUSD’s superintendent says Staff would move to different campuses.

“I want to be very clear, this is not about reducing staff. This is not about layoffs. This would be the current staff who are there would shift to a new campus that has a need, that partially is dependent on how many students go where,” Diffenbaugh said.

The district says there would be no consolidations next year. They expect to make a decision about this plan by April or May.

If they decide to make the changes, the district plans to reinvest cost savings into existing programs or offer new ones.

The superintendent says the old buildings could be utilized for other purposes.

“It could be another district program like independent study, adult school, something moves there. It could be that we rent it out and it’s a generator of income for the district. We’ve also discussed teacher housing, teacher-staff housing,” Diffenbaugh said.

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Elisha Machado

Elisha Machado is a weekend anchor and multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.


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