PLACENTIA / YORBA LINDA : School Boundary Changes Proposed

More than 200 parents turned out this week to hear Supt. James O. Fleming present his recommendations on new attendance boundaries to the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District Board of Education.

None of Fleming's eight recommendations for shifting boundaries require closing any schools.

However, despite assurances that he would not propose boundary changes involving many students for the upcoming school year, two of Fleming's recommendations could force some students to attend different schools in September.

The board will not take any action on the recommendations until at least the end of the month.

Fleming proposes shifting non-contiguous portions of Brookhaven Elementary School's attendance area, containing 247 students, to other elementary schools beginning in September. Although he also recommends granting current students the option of continuing at Brookhaven, the district would not provide transportation for those students.

For the 120 students bused to Brookhaven, Fleming's recommendations could mean that they would have to attend another school in the fall. The students are bused to the school to help boost its enrollment. If their neighborhoods are taken out of Brookhaven's attendance area, the school's enrollment could drop to as low as 288 students.

District policy is to consider closing a school when its attendance drops below half of its capacity. Brookhaven's capacity is 644.

Mike Bailey, director of planning and facilities for the district, said he expects that many of the students transferred out of Brookhaven's attendance area would exercise the option to stay at the school, keeping it above the closure threshold. Bailey added that Brookhaven's enrollment wouldn't be affected by the proposed boundary changes for two to three years.

Another boundary change that Fleming is proposing for the fall is the transfer of a portion of Glenview Elementary School's attendance area to the Linda Vista Elementary School attendance area. Those students would also retain the right to stay at Glenview, but again, the district would not provide transportation.

Several parents who addressed the board Tuesday have children attending Brookhaven and other schools affected by Fleming's recommendations.

"How can you take 247 students away from Brookhaven and expect the school to function?" Mindy Glatstein asked. "You are sending us a not-too-subtle message that you plan on closing our school."

Fleming's recommendations were culled from a 150-page report presented last month by a 12-member boundary advisory committee. The superintendent said he would not recommend every suggestion made by the committee, such as those that involve closing schools.

However, Board of Education President William Kielty said that all options are still open.

"We have serious educational needs, and we need to look at school utilization from a financial standpoint while still serving kids," he said.

While most of the speakers at Tuesday's meeting were protesting the proposed boundary changes, one parent criticized the lengths to which the district has gone to keep Brookhaven and two other elementary schools open.

Jan Wagner, a member of the Education Foundation, a private organization that raises money for the district, said that the district's general fund has been "depleted" by busing students to keep Brookhaven and the other schools open.

"The district has cut health, music, counseling, and every student has paid for that," she said.

Wagner said she would resign from the foundation if the district cuts any more programs before closing one of the three elementary schools.

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