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Plan to Close Elementary School Faulted at Meeting : Simi Valley: Parents decry restructuring proposal that would open a new technology and performing arts magnet high school.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

At a packed Simi Valley school board meeting Tuesday, angry parents assailed trustees for a proposal to close an elementary school to make room for a new performing arts school.

Parents said they were informed last week of the proposal, in letters sent home with students that said the district was planning to study the closure of one of three elementary schools next fall. The three schools being considered are Mountain View, Sycamore and Simi elementary.

The plan would also include closing one junior high school that has yet to be identified.

The reconfiguration would be part of a districtwide restructuring plan to open a new technology and performing arts magnet high school, officials said. Under the proposal, the district would send students at one of its elementary schools to different campuses, and convert that elementary site into a junior high school for seventh- and eighth-grade students.

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In turn, the junior high school campus would become the site of the new four-year magnet high school.

“I was shocked,” said Adel Martin, whose son is a special-education student at Sycamore. “I didn’t know anything about it. I can’t believe this is happening.”

Parent Diane Menjivar, who has four children at Sycamore, said she doesn’t want her children to be bused to an elementary school out of their home neighborhood.

“I bought a home in the neighborhood with the idea that my kids could walk to school,” she said.

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But board members downplayed the plan Tuesday, saying they were simply studying the idea of closing a school and are still months away from making a final decision.

“We’re bringing it out to the public and will make every effort possible to let people know what our plans are,” said board member Judy Barry.

“The opportunity for public input is only beginning,” said board member Norm Walker.

The plan was part of a list of district goals for the 1994-95 school year that was created at a board retreat about two weeks earlier.

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For years, school officials have wanted to open a fourth high school that would function as a magnet for students interested in studying the performing arts or technology. But because of the district’s severe financial problems, the plan had been tabled indefinitely.

School officials said they recently decided it was time to pursue the district’s longtime goal. The plan is still in its infancy and officials have yet to figure out how to pay for it.

In other business, Simi Valley school officials were poised to discuss a proposed revised sex-education curriculum, moving a step toward resolving a long-fought battle over how--or whether--birth control should be taught.


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