Grand jury recommends LGSUHSD merge with others in Santa Clara

October 4, 2010 — by Cecilia Hollenhorst and Michelle Shu

Trying to find ways to help financially struggling school districts, a Santa Clara County Superior Court Civil Grand Jury recently suggested the combination of five of the smallest school districts in the area, including the Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District. But the proposal has not been met with enthusiasm by members of the LGSUHSD board.

In June, the grand jury proposed this consolidation with the Loma Prieta Joint School District, Los Gatos Union School District, Saratoga Union School District and Lakeside Joint School District in order to save a projected 7 percent, mostly on administrative costs. However, the LGSUHSD believes that the negatives of the consolidation plan outweigh its benefits.

In his written response to the proposal, Roger Mason, president of the LGSUHSD Board of Trustees, said any monetary gains would “come at the expense of the quality of education provided students.”
Mason also stressed the importance of a small district and its benefits, stating, “Community input works better in a smaller setting” and that forging close relationships between individual schools and the community improves the district’s effectiveness.

The plan was created due to the varying sizes of districts in Santa Clara County, with a few districts only serving one school. In their proposal, the grand jury designated a range of 15,000 to 30,000 students as “optimum school district size” and created plans for the consolidation of six groups of districts in several areas of the county. Numerous districts responded negatively to the proposal, including Moreland School District and Berryessa School District.

Grand jury recommends LGSUHSD merge with others in Santa Clara

Although the Santa Clara Unified School District was not included in the proposal, its superintendent, Steve Stavis, was one of the few who spoke in favor of the proposal, calling it “economically viable” but went on to conclude that it was “politically, somewhere between improbable and impossible.”
The grand jury does not have the power to force this change on LGSUHSD, and the districts targeted in the report will remain the same size.

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