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Fullerton Board Approves Expansion of Maple School

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Parents fighting to regain their neighborhood school won a partial victory late Tuesday night when Fullerton School District trustees unanimously voted to begin expanding Maple School.

The trustees formed a committee to find space and funding to expand Maple School from a kindergarten-through-second-grade facility to one that handles all elementary levels through sixth grade.

But the board did not commit to expanding the school within four years, as parents and a separate school committee had recommended.

“We’re tired of meetings and tired of committees,” said Claudia Casillas, president of the Maple School-Site Council, a group of parents urging expansion. “We just want our school.”

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About 200 parents attended the meeting to back expansion.

The trustees agreed they would like to expand within four years but made no promises. “I would hate to disappoint Maple parents again, but I don’t want to lie to them either,” board member Hilda Sugarman said.

Parents have been fighting to make Maple a full-fledged elementary school ever since it reopened in 1996. It was closed in 1972.

The school will add the third grade this fall, but students in upper grades will still be bused to one of five other elementary schools.

Parents also are angered that the board approved the reopening of Beechwood School, closed for about three decades, for all grades when there is no assurance that it will be filled. Maple could easily be filled through the sixth grade, they contend.

Upgrading Maple to fit 700 students estimated to be attending by 2010 would cost $1.3 million to $2 million, district officials say.

Parents say Maple has been a safe and healthy environment for their children. They worry that continuing to move the children around would disrupt their progress.

Last month, parents presented $400 in tamale-sale proceeds to the district to help fund Maple School.

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“It was partly to send a message, but we plan to continue to help,” Casillas said. “It’s time we have our school back.”


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