AUBURN, Calif. — Rock Creek Elementary School in Auburn is set to close by the end of the school year due to a lack of funding. The school closure will mainly impact Hispanic and Latino families in Placer County.
Claudia Sanchez, a concerned parent, is fighting to keep the school open. Of the 276 students at the school, 75% are Hispanic and Latino.
“We're looking at kids who do not even speak English. They come from another country and they already know their teachers and how to communicate with them. It's going to be very difficult if kids have to go to other schools and start all over again,” said Sanchez.
The Auburn Union School District (AUSD) Board of Trustees made the decision to close Rock Creek in a 3-2 vote last month. As a result, school officals say students at Rock Creek will be sent to the three remaining AUSD schools. That includes Auburn Elementary, E.V. Cain Middle School, and Skyridge Elementary.
“It’s very said,” said concerned parent, Alejandrina Claudio. “There are a lot of great programs in this school and they give us a lot of opportunities, for the Hispanic communities especially.”
Esteban Soto, a father against the consolidation, wants the district and educators to know the impact the school had on so many families. He says he voiced his concerns to the district , but no one listened to him.
“No matter what we do, no matter what we say, they do not listen to us,” said Soto.
Superintendent Amber Lee-Alva sent the following statement to ABC10:
“Enrollment and Average Daily Attendance (ADA) are how school districts in California are funded. AUSD has been in a declining enrollment status for over a decade. As such, the loss of student attendance continues to reduce the funding that the District is entitled to from the State. In prior fiscal years the need for drastic reductions had not been addressed, and now the District was faced with a possible “Negative” budget certification with the State of California. In order to prevent this from happening, a Budget Committee was formed and a Fiscal Recovery Plan adopted in March 2022.
With the adoption of the Fiscal Recovery Plan, a Fiscal Recovery Implementation Planning Committee (FRIP) was established with the task of making a recommendation to the Board of Trustees on the best implementation of the actions outlined in the Plan. Members of the original Budget Committee were invited, as well as more representatives from all school sites, and each Board of Trustee member also appointed a representative to serve on this Committee.
After the report of recommendation from the Fiscal Recovery Implementation Planning Committee was presented to the Board of Trustees in January 2023, the Board considered this report as well as; the original Budget Committee information and Fiscal Recovery Plan, additional information from presentations from Staff and public comments, individual research and fact gathering. From this the Board engaged in an elimination process in order to identify the sites that were best suited to accommodate increased enrollment and location that least impacted the community as a whole. The Board voted to consolidate Rock Creek Elementary to Auburn Elementary, and still maintain open enrollment allowing for school of choice within the District.
There is a misconception that the specialized programs that our students and staff benefit from at Rock Creek Elementary can only be offered on that site. However, programs and funding are allocated by students no matter what school site they attend. Some examples are Federal Title Funding, which can be distributed Districtwide where the students who qualify for it are served. All of our schools in Auburn Union, Elementary and Middle School, provide the same instruction and programs for English Language Development (ELD) and all instructors have engaged in professional development in this area and all are qualified to assist any student needing additional support.
With additional grant funding from the State of California, school districts are expanding before and after school care, targeting supplemental funds for low income families. Auburn Union School District is also doing this, and in our 2023-24 school year will add additional services for child care at all sites, and will have these available to students moving from Rock Creek Elementary.
We acknowledge that change is hard and that students, staff and families grow attached to a school site. However it is the people and the programs that make a school site unique and special. All of the things that make Rock Creek special can follow the students to Auburn Elementary School.”
A town hall to discuss school consolidation and relocation is scheduled to take place at 4 p.m. on Feb. 7 at Auburn Elementary.
Two more town halls will follow; one at E.V. Cain at 4 p.m. on Feb. 10 and the other at the AUSD Board Room at 6 p.m. on Feb. 15.