LODI (CBS13) — Parents packed the Lodi Unified School Board meeting Tuesday night as the district considered closing a neighborhood school.
The district says enrollment at Houston School in Acampo is too low, but parents say closing the school would be a disaster for local families.
“These 204 individual and loving personalities will be devastated,” said DeDe St. John, a Lodi mother whose niece and nephew attend Houston School.
“My biggest concern is safety,” said mom of three Lisa Graci. “They drive 70 miles an hour, I’ve been T-boned in my own driveway. I’m not going send my kid down the street to a hub to catch a bus to go to Lodi.”
Parents and teachers showed up to the meeting, demanding answers from the school district.
There are 203 students enrolled at Houston, but Elodia Ortega-Lampkin, Lodi Unified Assistant Superintendent, said the school’s capacity is 496 students. That leaves the campus 293 students short of expected enrollment.
“When you have a small school, low enrollment, you get less funding per student,” she said.
That means fewer resources and activities at the school. The district’s solution is move the students who range in age from kindergarten to 6th grade to Victor School and the 7th- and 8th-grade students to Lockeford School.
“I don’t find that that is possible since they are almost at capacity as well,” St. John said. “Going to a school with that many students, you don’t get as much help. The teachers have enough on their plate. The teachers are overworked and underpaid as it is.”
Under the district’s plan, John Serna Jr. Charter School would relocate to Houston’s empty campus.
“I know some people have said that the decisions have been made,” said George Neely, school board vice president. “I want to tell you that they were misinformed.”
The school board members say they’ll continue to discuss the issue, but St. John doesn’t want a solution that includes Houston shutting down.
“Houston will hopefully not be closing if I have anything to say about it,” she said.
At the end of Tuesday’s discussion, the school board told the district it needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with some alternative solutions.