Some Residents Express Dismay Over School Boundary

Residents upset because Laguna Beach Unified School District officials will not be making a proposed boundary change expressed their frustration this week at the first school board meeting since trustees made the decision.

Though most of the 2,600 homes being built in the Newport Coast development lie in the territory of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, an estimated 340 students will go to already crowded Laguna Beach schools. Board members had considered transferring those students to Newport-Mesa in exchange for payments from Newport-Mesa, the city of Laguna Beach and Irvine Co., which is developing Newport Coast.

"All three of those entities tried really hard and we appreciated all of their offers," Laguna Beach school Trustee Robert J. Whalen said after Tuesday's board meeting. But none could match the tax money the new students will bring the district--"$2.5 million a year, every year, forever," Trustee Eileen T. Walsh said. The Irvine Co. is also paying the Laguna Beach district a $6.6-million lump sum.

The board announced its decision last week. Residents who say the new students will overwhelm Laguna Beach schools reiterated their concerns Tuesday night.

Mike Linkletter said many parents are disappointed and are considering sending their children to private schools.

But other residents applauded the move. Jill Edwards, with one son who just entered Laguna Beach High School and another who just graduated there, said the influx of students and money from the new homes will help schools expand and offer more classes.

"When you have 45 kids competing for one calculus class, that means 12 won't get in," she said.

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