As you may or may not know by now, the Cottonwood Union School District Board at their meeting last Tuesday evening voted to close East Cottonwood Elementary School at the end of this year and move the students and teachers to North Cottonwood beginning the 2012/2013 school year. They also voted to move 5th grade students and teachers from North Cottonwood to West Cottonwood beginning next school year as well. The reason for the move and the urgency is due to the financial situation that the school district finds itself in as a result of the continued financial difficulties that the state of California faces. The school district needs to cut around one million dollars out of its budget for the upcoming school year. This is on top of the cuts the district has made over the last few years which has amounted to about 3 million dollars. The district was expecting to have to make $300,000 in cuts for next year but the number has grown to around 1 million dollars with the governor’s budget proposal that was released in January. Closing the school is estimated to save the district approximately $220,000 next year and more in the following years. The reason for the savings is reduction in utilities, technology, supplies, some personnel and other items. The district will have to spend some money next year in the move to build an appropriate kindergarten playground at North and an appropriate fifth grade playground at West. There will also be some cost in moving equipment, technology and classroom supplies.
This has been a very difficult decision for the board as many people have very fond memories of East Cottonwood as a parent and as a student Unfortunately, the finances dictate that the district take drastic steps to balance the budget. Additionally, I know that people are nervous about sending their students to the junior high a year earlier than we have over the last few years. West Cottonwood housed fifth graders for a number of years in the past until North Cottonwood was built a few years ago. The district will make every effort to make the move as positive as possible and will work hard on alleviating the fears and concerns that parents have in regards to the move. On the positive side, students will still be taught by the same outstanding staff as the East staff is moving to North and the 5th grade staff is moving to West. We will be utilizing our facility at North, which is only 5 years old, more completely and having students on two campuses instead of three will be helpful to parents as well we hope.
Finally, I know that this has come about very quickly but the finances from the state level have dictated that we move quickly. I know that it will be hectic around the district for the next few months but I can assure you that our focus is on our students and their education. I am sure there will be more news to report to you during the spring and I will try to do so as best I can. You may want to check on our district web page on occasion to look for updates as well.