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Superintendent says that his district can add only a few more pupils

"Each year, we take some students from other districts to fill classes, and we will continue to do so for next year if we have the room. But we already are using every classroom, and have less than a dozen spots for additional students," said Scott Mahoney, superintendent of the Waugh School District, regarding the possible closure of either Bernard Eldredge or Old Adobe.

Waugh has two schools — Corona Creek, which already has 480 students enrolled for next year, and Meadow, which has 460 students. The district has a maximum of 20 students in its K-3 classes and shoots for a maximum of 26 students in the 4-6 classes, although the average is about 27 students.

Each year, about one-third of the Waugh students come from other districts. While adding more students would result in more Average Daily Attendance funding, it would negatively impact the district in other ways, Mahoney said.

"We would need more instructional assistants in PE, music and art classes, in the computer lab and library, during lunch time and recesses and for special education," Mahoney said. "I personally believe that Old Adobe is an excellent district, and I hope it will be able to accommodate the students if one of its schools closes."

Waugh, like districts throughout the state, is facing its own financial challenges, and generally, Mahoney encourages students to remain within their current districts during this challenging economic time.

"School districts can only offer the level of service that they receive funding for, so if the state continues to reduce funding, this is likely to affect services. So, unless there's a fundamental change in education funding in California, there will be no reason for parents to have their students leave their district," he said.

The Old Adobe district, in particular, is facing some difficult questions as it continues its discussion regarding the possible closure of a school beginning in 2010-2011.

"I think that it's very difficult," said Superintendent Diane Zimmerman. "In many ways, the schools are very similar, but in many other ways, they are very different."

At its meeting on Thursday, March 25, the board is scheduled to continue its discussion about whether or not to close Bernard Eldredge Elementary School or Old Adobe Elementary School, as well as if Tier III funding for the district's libraries should be reduced. The public portion of the meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at Sonoma Mountain School, at 1900 Rainier Circle.

The board is scheduled to have an additional discussion about school closure at its April 1 meeting, and possibly at a special meeting on April 15. Zimmerman plans to make a recommendation to the board, which is to announce its decision on April 22.

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