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Roseville school board votes to close Sierra Gardens

Eich will become sixth through eighth grade middle school starting in 2013
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Sierra Gardens Elementary School will close in 2013.

The Roseville City School District board of trustees voted 4 to 1 in favor of closing the school during their board meeting Thursday. Board member Rene Aguilera cast the dissenting vote.

“I don’t believe in closing neighborhood schools,” Aguilera said to the crowd of about 50 people.

The board’s vote also means Eich Intermediate School will become a sixth through eighth grade middle school. Currently, Eich serves only seventh and eighth graders. The Sierra Gardens campus will house sixth-grade classrooms.

Eich will also work toward implementing the prestigious International Baccalaureate program, starting in the 2013-14 school year.

The issue has generated controversy since it was first introduced to the public in November. Many parents at Sierra Gardens oppose the change and held several protests outside the school in January.

“This is a very difficult decision, I think, for all the board members,” said board President Gary Miller. “(I’ve) tried to keep an open mind and listen intently to what people’s concerns were.”

He said he attended 10 related meetings and spoke with about 50 parents. He voted yes after the board listened to 25 minutes of public comment during Thursday’s meeting. Miller said, ultimately, the district’s financial crisis prompted his support of the school closure.

“From my perspective, the current situation is not going to work financially,” Miller said. “So we have to figure out something else.”

The change is meant, in part, to address declining enrollment at three of Eich’s feeder schools — Sierra Gardens, Sargeant Elementary School and Crestmont Elementary School — and allow for Eich to better serve students, according to district administrators.

During public comment, Sierra Gardens parent Lilly Smith implored the board to consider alternatives to closing her child’s school.

“The closure of Sierra Gardens will be detrimental to our families and our neighborhood,” Smith said.

Some Stoneridge parents oppose the change to Eich Intermediate School because they don’t want their children going to a middle school for sixth grade.

Stoneridge parent Tami Rush told the Press Tribune — before the board’s vote — that she has done research into the academic and behavioral problems associated with putting sixth graders in a middle school environment. She also doesn’t want her sons to have to walk between Eich and Sierra Gardens to attend class.

“If they do this, we are prepared to transfer to the Eureka Union School District,” Rush said. “There are a ton of parents who are going to do the same. I know schools need to save money, but are you willing to do that at the sake of children’s education and safety? I don’t think that’s right.”

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.