MODESTO — Modesto City Schools board members will weigh shifting more teens to Davis and Johansen high schools to even enrollment Monday, with a final vote recommended in February. But first they can expect to get an earful about the firing of their principals.
The dismissals of Davis Principal Lynn Lysco, Johansen Principal Julie Moore and Franklin Elementary Principal Michael Brady, who will lose their jobs June 30, have sparked email, parent group and Facebook campaigns urging a strong presence at Monday's meeting. The board will not take up the issue, but it offers a public comment period.
Although boundaries and staffing are separate issues for the district, they intertwine for campus communities.
Franklin parents say they plan to fight for a principal who made their school welcoming. The school has had a new principal every two years for the past six years, noted a letter sent out by the Franklin Parent Teacher Club.
Johansen teachers voice concerns about demographics shifting with boundaries, made worse by high administrative turnover: nine principals and assistant principals in four years.
Davis students say they're tired of the "ghetto school" stigma and see the one person who stood up for campus repairs instead of building a stadium for Gregori High being fired.
"I'm worried with her going, are they going to neglect our school even more, since she spoke out and was fired?" said Davis health careers academy student Pahola Alvarez. The hallway roofs leak and the air conditioning is "iffy," she said. "Everybody calls it the ghetto school, and it's a shame because we have a lot of good things here," Alvarez said.
Lysco spoke out for spending money on safety upgrades at Davis instead of putting the district's last bit of high school facilities money toward the Gregori stadium now going up.
As the district works to even enrollment at its campuses, the plight of Davis High only 61 percent full stands out. Its enrollment, drained as Enochs and Gregori high schools opened, is projected to fall to 1,289 next year, about half the size of Enochs.
Such disparity will not be allowed in high school athletics, the Sac-Joaquin Section ruled Wednesday. Without a shift to even enrollment, Modesto's own Metro Conference will be forced to split, with Enochs, Gregori and Modesto high schools shifting to the Central California Conference.
The district's spring sports schedule, included for review on Monday's school board agenda, notes the cost of trips to outside tournaments and other meets, $150 to $500 per game. By those documents, what the district spends for athletic transportation ranges from zero at Beyer High to $6,650 at Gregori.
Superintendent Pam Able said she would rather realign campuses than split the Modesto league. Monday's vote could move that process forward, with community meetings to be held later this month and a final vote Feb. 4 to take effect in the fall.
Uneven size also makes a difference when trying to take specialized classes such as Advanced Placement physics and higher math. Modesto board member Stacie Morales said she had concerns about evening the scholastic options for all the high schools when she joined the board in the fall.
Lysco said her school had a full slate of AP classes this fall, despite low class sizes. But Davis' lower enrollment also affects the perception of its academics.
The campus houses Modesto's introductory program for recent immigrants, many of whom start with no English and little schooling. They have predictably lower scores on state tests, Lysco said. The fewer regular students at Davis, the larger the effect of those low scores on the campus average.
Davis has the lowest testing average of all Modesto schools, 712 compared with Beyer at 783 and Enochs, the highest, at 824. Because Davis and Johansen have failed to meet federal testing targets, students must be allowed to transfer to other schools with higher scores. Up for ratification Monday is a list of high schools that will allow such transfers: Beyer, Davis, Downey and Johansen.
Academics is the top concern of parent Ted Perrone. His Beyer-area home, west of McHenry Avenue, is in an area where students may be transferred to Davis. Perrone is a Davis alum but says without an academic draw and renovations, he would rather his fourth-grader was a Patriot.
"Why isn't the answer to build up academic programs and make it someplace that is a destination?" Perrone asked. He said he doesn't care that Davis isn't one of the beautiful new campuses, but he questions why no upgrades are happening.
"I don't think you have to have a shiny new school to have an excellent education," he said, but a rundown campus does have a psychological impact.
Perrone's block also faces a shift from Sherwood Elementary to Woodrow Elementary as Sylvan Union School District considers moving its boundaries. Those options will get a first hearing at the Sylvan board meeting Tuesday, with a final decision Feb. 5.
The north Modesto district began its deliberations in September, holding two town-hall meetings in November to discuss two potential boundary shifts for elementary and middle school students.
Modesto City Schools first brought the issue of boundary shifts to the board in November, with an expedited time frame for this year's eighth-graders to know where they're going when signing up for freshman classes this spring.
Also up for discussion Monday is the possibility of holding off the switch to the 2014-15 school year, Modesto's last chance to avoid the split of its sports league.
The Modesto City Schools board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday in the staff development center, 425 Locust St. The agenda is posted at http://bit.ly/MCSmeetings.
Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2339, and on Twitter, @NanAustin.
Here are the areas proposed for realignment. Community meetings are proposed for later in January, with a final vote Feb. 4:
Option 1: Move all Beyer High attendance area west of Tully Avenue to Davis. Doing so would eliminate high school busing for the area, which is closer to Davis.
Option 2: Move all Beyer attendance area west of McHenry Avenue to Davis. This, too, would bring students within the three-mile high school walking radius.
Beyer backfill plan: Move Enochs attendance area east of Oakdale Road, south of Floyd Avenue and west of Roselle Avenue to Beyer. Students there are within three miles of both schools.
Enochs reduction: Move the Enochs attendance area south of Briggsmore Avenue to Johansen. The area is within three miles of Johansen, ending the need for busing there.
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