YORBA LINDA : School-Attendance Change Supported

The City Council and Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District trustees appear united behind a legislative proposal to lift a rule that requires about 700 Yorba Linda students to attend high school in Fullerton.

Prospects for the students to be added to the district, along with hundreds more expected from new housing developments proposed in Yorba Linda over the next decade, dominated discussions at an unprecedented joint meeting Monday between the school trustees and council members. The two bodies, which at times have had disputes, were amicable during the three-hour session.

Although no major decision came from the meeting, council members and school trustees pledged to work together as the city updates its General Plan this year, which will have an effect on new growth and population. They also agreed to seek more joint projects, such as the Travis Ranch Activity Center.

"Cooperation among public agencies is really beneficial," said school trustee Barbara Williams. "It can save taxpayers a lot of money."

For the past week, school officials and city residents had been closely watching the Legislature, where lawmakers have been debating a school-choice bill. A last-minute amendment to the bill would lift a requirement that about 700 west Yorba Linda high school students attend Troy High School in Fullerton once they reach the ninth grade.

Although the amendment has gone to an Assembly conference committee and could be delayed until January, school officials hope it will open discussions between their district and the Fullerton Joint Union High School District.

Fullerton school officials have opposed the amendment, saying the loss of students would deal a serious blow to their income from the state and probably force them to close a high school.

"I anticipate in the near future we will be talking," Supt. James O. Fleming said.

The Placentia-Yorba Linda district would be able to absorb the new students into El Dorado and Valencia High schools, which are below capacity, Fleming told the two public bodies.

"We believe we would have the capacity within our schools to handle those students," he said. "If they were to have a choice, it would take five to six years to have great numbers of them coming here. . . . It is something we are concerned about."

School planners said that even Esperanza High School, the largest in the district with about 2,300 students, could handle almost 700 more students.

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