School District Could Lose $846,000

  • Parents Lark Shillig, Christen Suorsa

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    Parents Lark Shillig, Christen Suorsa

  • MOT Fernando Nieto and Harry Riedel

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    MOT Fernando Nieto and Harry Riedel

133 Fewer Students Enrolled Now than in October 2009

By Patric Hedlund

News of the drop in enrollment at El Tejon Unified School District campuses led the trustees’ meeting October 13. The superintendent reported that 133 fewer students are enrolled this year than in October 2009.

Trustee Anita Anderson asked, “Where have they gone? How many are home schooling?” Factual explanations were not presented.

Superintendent Katie Kleier conjectured that, “people move out of state for jobs.” She said other districts in California are also “trending down,” and that superintendents “are talking about families moving for employment.”

Brad Oliver of the Cuddy Creek neighborhood of Frazier Park stood to say that six children on his street “have been pulled out of ETUSD schools and that accounts for [4.5] percent of the ‘missing kids.’” He said, “If you were offering a superior product, hitting 850 in tests, families would be breaking down the doors to get in.” He said people care greatly about the schools here doing a good job.

Anderson said she calculated a $670,000 loss in state funding if there was a 100-student drop (at $6,700 income per student) but “this is worse.” Using a school formula, about $846,545 could be lost in state funding next year if the loss of 133 students continues into April.

Fernando Nieto was introduced as the newly-hired Maintenance, Operations and Transportation (MOT) supervisor. Craig Stowell was there, still protesting his removal from that position by the new superintendent. Nieto is from Tulare County. He worked with Richland School District. When this reporter asked about his experience running school buses in snow, he said he’d driven in snow and that he is familiar with tule fog. He was not yet sure whether he will move his residence to the Mountain Communities, “we’ll have that conversation next week,” he said. He began on October 18.

Nick Bartsch of CM Construction Service reported the roof will be placed on four classrooms at the Frazier Park School building project, the kindergarten building slab is being laid and a new playground will be opened up shortly.

Bartsch said that change orders for $33,246 are needed, in part because the architect’s first plan for a small drainage basin was ruled inadequate by Kern County’s inspector.

Bartsch said the former plan relied on much of the run-off water flowing down the street from the school property, and that a new county inspector said this was not acceptable. Bartsch said the enlarged basin would also limit liability issues that could arise if water flowed into the new motel at the corner of Mt. Pinos Way and San Carlos Trail.

Christen Suorsa asked why the architect had not “done his homework in the first place, and why should the school district be handed the bill for his mistake?”

Bartsch said a change in personnel at the county could be the reason for the mismatch between earlier and present standards. Over $260,000 in change orders have been approved by the board so far on Frazier Park School’s construction project.

Over at El Tejon School, Bartsch said all legacy Exxon Mobil pipes (from the early part of last century) have been removed from the school grounds and the area has been certified as free from contaminants left in the soil.

Parent conference week is just finishing at El Tejon School.

This is part of the October 22, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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