Sierra Unified will close two schools

AUBERRY, Calif.

Auberry and Sierra Elementary Schools are just a few miles apart in the foothills. But now the district has to put about 400 children in new schools.

In the town of Auberry some parents say they moved here for one thing in particular, a quality education for their kids.

Auberry Elementary parent, Jamie Bennett said, "My husband and I moved up here for the school district. If the services and programs were not here for our children then we would move."

The district is home to distinguished schools with API test scores over 800. Last week the Sierra Unified Board voted to close the only two elementary schools in the area.

Michael Gardner, Sierra Unified Superintendent said, "There's disappointment these schools have been open for 100 years."

With declining enrollment, the district was forced to cut $9 million from its budget. At the end of this school year even Superintendent Michael Gardner's job will be gone.

Gardner says less than 400 students attend Auberry and Sierra Elementary. In the fall, they will go to Foothill Middle School -- the four thru eight school will become a kindergarten through six. And seven and 8th graders will move over to the high school.

Gardner said, "We think we can separate campus so 7th and 8th graders will be on same bell schedule, they will have different lunches and different area they will be in."

But there will be some student crossover in elective courses. Gardner says by closing the schools, the district saves $400 thousand, allowing them to protect what's most important.

Gardner said, "We either close schools or reduce our programs and the board chose to keep those programs."

Nearly a dozen teachers will also lose their jobs, however some positions were saved because there are two fewer schools to maintain.

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