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HUNTINGTON BEACH : Parents Battling Middle-School Plan

A group of Marine View School parents is fighting a proposal to change the kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school to a middle school.

Although the proposal is in the preliminary stages, the parents have formed a committee to oppose it.

Many of the parents have lobbied Ocean View School District administrators and board members during the past week to reject the proposal. Three leaders of the group spoke against the plan at Tuesday’s board meeting.

The proposal is one of two that district officials have suggested to improve educational programs and deal with a growing budget deficit. It would change four of the district’s six kindergarten-through-eighth-grade schools--Marine View, Mesa View, Spring View and Vista View--to middle schools, attended by sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.

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If approved, the plan could also force at least one other school to close, Supt. Monte McMurray said Wednesday.

The other proposal would retain the district’s current system, a combination of K-8 and K-6 schools, but would change two of the larger schools to K-6, McMurray said.

Marine View parents, the first group to publicly oppose the middle-school plan, argue that the change would force younger students to transfer to schools outside their neighborhoods, would be expensive and might not reap any educational benefits.

Marine View “runs very well, has a lot of good programs and has a nurturing attitude,” said Margie Brennan, chairwoman of the newly formed Marine View Concerned Parents Committee. “A majority of parents would like to see it remain a K-8 site . . . (and) not turn into a mini-high school.”

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Fran Dereszynski, president of the school’s Parents and Teachers Assn., said she believes parents should have been better informed about the proposal before now.

District officials, however, have emphasized that the two proposals are still in a relatively early stage of the approval process.

The district’s 40-member community advisory committee has been discussing the proposals this week. The school board will analyze them during a study session Wednesday. And a series of neighborhood meetings, including one at Marine View, are scheduled early next month. The board is expected to make a decision March 19.

But McMurray said Ocean View’s time line on the reconfiguration plan may be pushed back, depending on the progress of its racial-desegregation effort, which is also under way.

The board canceled a public hearing Tuesday on the desegregation plan because the district had not received comment on the proposal from the federal Office of Civil Rights. Although the plan does not require that office’s approval, any community charges of segregation would be processed through that office, McMurray said.

The plan seeks to correct the district’s racial imbalances by closing Crest View School and overhauling Oak View School, both of which have predominantly Latino student populations.

McMurray said he expected a report from the Office of Civil Rights by the end of this week.


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