Santa Rosa's Doyle Park school could be closed
Published: Friday, January 20, 2012 at 10:18 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 20, 2012 at 12:38 p.m.
Although the deal is not yet done, Martin Chaparro — the father of a fourth-grader at Doyle Park Elementary School in Santa Rosa — has accepted defeat.
While picking up his son from school Friday, he read a bulletin board notice that the Santa Rosa School Board would be considering a proposal to close the 61-year-old campus on Sonoma Avenue as early as the end of the school year.
Chaparro, speaking in Spanish, said matter-of-factly, the school board "decides these things, what can a parent do?"
The campus has struggled with declining enrollment and has been the focus of closure discussions in the past.
But now, circumstances at the school have become a "perfect storm," prompting officials once again to consider shutting the school, Superintendent Sharon Liddell said Friday.
Doyle Park is the only elementary school in the K-12 district that has had a decline in API scores in the past 12 years, according to a school district report.
During that period, the school's scores have risen six times and fallen six times. But overall, the average score has dropped 18 points since 1999, when it was 690. It was 672 last year.
The report points out that Doyle Park's two neighboring elementary schools, Brook Hill and Burbank, which have similar socioeconomic and demographic compositions, have seen API score increases of more than 250 points since 1999.
But Doyle Park Principal Kaesa Enemark said some of the school's families feel there's a lot more to the school than its test scores.
"We want well-rounded students, we have a nice school community here," she said.
Several parents said Friday they liked the feel of the school and that they felt it had a safe and friendly environment for their kids.
Alysha Dehnert, whose neighborhood school is Proctor Terrace Elementary, said she prefers Doyle Park, because "it's a better school."
"The teachers, the principal, the location ... the teachers are amazing," said Dehnert, who has children in both first and second grades and another that will be entering kindergarten next year.
Kenneth Kilgore, who sat in a wheelchair in the rain waiting for his daughter to get out of school, said he's "been through this before." Kilgore lives on Hoen Avenue.
Kilgore, whose daughter, Destiny, 9, is in fourth grade, said the last time school officials proposed closing the school was when Destiny was in kindergarten. He said she does well at the school, though he understands the pressures on the school regarding declining enrollment.
"Most parents around here should bring their kids to this school because it's a great school," Kilgore said.
School officials said Friday that Doyle's average daily attendance for the 2010-2011 school year was 213 students, for which the school received $1,075,687. But the school's expenses were $1,256,867, resulting in a loss of $181,180 -- the largest of any of the district's elementary schools.
Liddell said closing the school would result in a savings of $411,000 if all of Doyle Park's current students decide to stay in the district.
"The proposal is that Doyle Park would close at the end of the school year," she said.
On Thursday afternoon, district officials met with staff from Doyle Park, Proctor Terrace, Brook Hill and Luther Burbank elementary schools to discuss the potential impact on those neighboring campuses.
The district proposes realigning Doyle Park's attendance boundaries and estimates that Luther Burbank would receive 99 extra students, Brook Hill would absorb 80 students and Proctor Terrace would get 16 students.
Between four and five more classes would be needed at Luther Burbank, depending on grade level; three to four extra classes at Brook Hill; and one additional classroom space at Proctor Terrace would be needed.
Officials also listed possible uses for a shuttered Doyle Park campus, including providing facilities for the French-American charter school serving grades K-8 and an online charter school serving grades 9-12.
The report also said that plans for modernizing and expanding the Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts call for relocating that program for all of the 2013-2014 school year.
School officials stressed that the location of the new charter schools are separate proposals and are not tied to the closure of Doyle Park.
Martin Chaparro, the Doyle Park father, said that although he lives near Lincoln Elementary School on West Ninth Street, he has been sending his 10-year-old son, also named Martin, to the east Santa Rosa school since kindergarten.
The boy, his bangs hanging low over his eyebrows, took the news about the possible closure with a straight face.
"I would like to finish here," said the younger Martin, who has two more years at the school. "I have all my friends here. I don't want to leave here."
Doyle Park has scheduled a special meeting for parents from 5 to 6 p.m. Monday at the school to discuss the proposal.
The Santa Rosa School Board is scheduled to review the proposal Wednesday.
And a town hall meeting is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 30 at Herbert Slater Middle School.
The school board could vote on the issue at its Feb. 8 meeting.
You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 521-5213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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