The Denair Unified School District is looking at merging its popular elementary charter school with adjacent Denair Elementary by next year.
Superintendent Aaron Rosander said preliminary discussions are being held on unifying Denair Elementary and Denair Academic Avenues, called D2A, in time for the 2015-16 school year. Elementary Principal Sara Michelena will head the exploratory group.
The charter school has an extended school day, offers Spanish to all its students and incorporates performing arts. Because it is a charter, students from throughout the region can attend without seeking permission from their home district. A merger could help Denair finances if its out-of-district students remain.
Finances are looking up for the district. It expects to build back some of its reserve this year, a revised 2014-15 budget shows, and have mandatory minimums in place the following year.
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“I'm pleased that the budget report shows that our fiscal recovery plan remains on a proper and positive trajectory,” said Rosander, who took over in February. “Based on this report, it appears that Denair schools may well be out of the red and into the black by or before the end of next school year.”
That will close a difficult chapter of Denair history, a centennial year eclipsed by insolvency and the threat of state takeover. County loans, deep salary cuts and layoffs brought the district’s budget back in line after years of spending beyond its means.
Denair failed to cut costs despite lower state funding and the loss of students during the recession. Attendance fell again this year, though not as drastically as in 2013-14.
The district projects it will serve 1,287 students this year in its regular and charter campuses, down 66 from an early count last year and 20 percent off its pre-recession high of 1,600 in 2007-08.
“Growing enrollment is a priority for this district,” Rosander acknowledged.
Hometown spirit was lauded by school board members at their September meeting. Volunteers painted and spruced up Denair High School’s Jack Lytton Stadium before the first football game, using materials and labor donated by local businesses.