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School Board Votes Unanimously to Close Dry Creek Elementary School

Parents, teachers turn out. Many plead for Creekview Ranch Middle School to remain as is.

The Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District school board voted unanimously to close the historic Dry Creek Elementary School Thursday night. 

Their decision also calls for transitioning Creekview Ranch Middle School into a kindergarten through eighth-grade school.

The elementary is now slated to close in June of 2014. Transitioning the middle school is expected to take up to 18 months.  

The vote followed an hour and a half presentation by the district's staff followed by numerous comments from parents and teachers opposing the recommendation.

The district's board members agreed the aging school needed to be closed and that the most cost-effective way to move the students would be to make the middle school a K-8.

"Anything that we can do to save money and save teachers and classified staff jobs is really difficult to get upset about," said Board Member Jeff Randall. 

Board President Scott Otsuka cited why he thought the school should close.

"We have to move students off of the Dry Creek campus for their own health and sanity. I would like to move the educators off the educators off the Dry Creek campus as well," said Board President Scott Otsaku. "It has become a very tough environment in which to educate and which to learn." 

Creekview Principal Gabe Simon said he wasn't surprised by the district's decision, adding he has heard accounts of sewage problems at Dry Creek. 

"It means a lot of change is going to happen at the school," said Simon. "It will be like opening a new school. We will have a new community of kids and families coming in."

The vote directly impacts the district's three middle schools, as well as two other elementary schools. 

Middle school enrollment designations for students attending Coyote Ridge Elementary school and Barrett Ranch Elementary are now slated to change.

All students at Coyote Ridge will soon attend Silverado Middle School. And students moving up into middle school at Barrett will now attend Antelope Crossing Middle School. Enrollment will increase at both middle schools. 

A group of teachers and parents huddled outside in front of the Creekview Ranch's multi-purpose room following the board's decision. 

"I think it's a huge disservice to middle school students as well as elementary school students," said Nicole Zanni, who came as both a Creekview teacher and a parent of a Dry Creek Elementary student. 

District parent Scott Elling felt the board didn't consider the middle schoolers enough. "I feel bad for the kids at the other middle schools that such a small population is impacting hundreds of kids," said Elling. Elling said he would have rather seen the district move Dry Creek students to other elementary schools. 

Nearly 100 people attended the meeting.

Creekview Ranch and Dry Creek Elementary School parent Barbie Camacho, spoke in favor of the changes. 

"As long as people putting everything together do it in a positive way it can be a positive change," said Camacho, who also went to Dry Creek as a child. 

Dono Riolo, a parent in the district, agreed with Camacho. Speaking to the age differences posed at a K-8 school she said, "It provides little kids with someone to look up to and I think it provides the bigger kids with someone to help out."

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Dale Herrington February 23, 2013 at 09:26 PM
Although my home's value is enhanced by proximity to Dry Creek School, it appears that the greater good is served by shutting it down and consolidating at Creekview Ranch. Would like to know WHEN it will be shuttered but the Patch report neglected to provide a timetable. Certainly the ideal would be for 2014-2015 when the bridge on Cook Riolo is complete. Otherwise there will be a traffic nightmare that pales by comparison with the current situation. All of Morgan Creek South, Willow Creek, Morgan Greens and children being transported from Antelope cannot possibly be accomodated by alternating one-way traffic on the half completed bridge.
Dale Herrington February 23, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Those are not the type of considerations that should have a major effect on decisions that involve millions in expenditures. I'm sure school authorities can find a way to keep thirteen year old eighth graders separate in the playground from five year old kindergartners. Praise is due to the school board for listening to everyone before making a decision (no matter which way they decided) that will please some and disappoint others. I'd venture to guess that the reason the final decision seems to have been the goal weeks in advance of the final vote is that it is head and shoulders the most logical move to be made.
Jeff Randall February 23, 2013 at 10:14 PM
The choice came down to: 1) moving kids to several elementary schools at a cost of 450K of one time expense + ongoing expense of 79K per year. There would be a need as well to redraw all of the elementary school lines. 2) Create the K-8. One time cost of about around $425K with a savings of $225K each year. The timetable is 18 months. This will give the district time to come up with the bell schedule, make sure they have the staff in place, and get all on board before the K-5 kids come over in August of 2014. The full bridge is scheduled to be in place by then, along with a sidewalk. Starting in August 2013, kids who are currently living in selected parts of the district will begin attending the middle school closer to home, while current Creekview kids can continue there if they choose. Parents will be able to apply for transfers to the school of their choice for the next several weeks if they have a preference one way or another. The tax implications are simple. There are not any. The cost of changing things over (putting in playgrounds, modifying a few classrooms, etc) will be recouped with savings from within 2 years. You can see the presentation from the meeting by following the link: http://www.boarddocs.com/ca/drycreek/Board.nsf/files/94XPSF6476CB/$file/Feb%2021%202013%20Facility%20Workshop.pdf
Dale Herrington February 24, 2013 at 02:12 AM
Thanks Jeff, for a prompt and complete reply. It will be interesting to see how the current Dry Creek School property will be used in the future. Perhaps a new district office near the front of the property with some of the costs offset by selling land between the property and the one home on that section of Cook Riolo for a couple of custom homes. In addition, the 3.5 acres across the street from DCS is available since the very elderly gentleman who occupied the old shack died late in 2012. The school closing probably enhances the value of that land. Note: My wife and I have six grandchildren living in the area. One at Woodcreek, two at Creekview and a fourth grader at Dry Creek. He'll be unaffected as his normal transition date to Creekview would be Fall of 2014 regardless of the new plans.
Jeff Randall February 24, 2013 at 02:36 AM
You are welcome, Dale. I believe that the Morgan Creek will be a school someday, but that is at least 7-10 years down the road. We will have to wait for not only the economy to improve, but for building to start up again. It was not a decision that anyone on the board was happy about- but the district is using this as an opportunity to do something unique and special- (and save money at the same time) rather than complaining, or kicking the can down the road until we are in a fix like Sacramento City district is- where they just voted to close down 7 schools on Thursday night.

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