Schools shift bothers Fruita council
The Fruita City Council is dismayed by School District 51’s plan to shuffle hundreds of students in Fruita to different elementary schools next year, contending Fruita schoolchildren and their families are bearing too much of the burden of the district’s budget cuts.
Council members agreed unanimously Tuesday night to send a letter to the Board of Education suggesting other schools in the district should share in the financial sacrifice and that closing an underutilized school might be a better option to help address overcrowding in Fruita.
The letter comes in response to the School Board’s approval last week of a boundary change that will send about 150 Shelledy Elementary students who live south of Interstate 70 to Loma Elementary and about 200 Rim Rock Elementary students who live on the east-west boundary between Rim Rock and Shelledy to Shelledy.
The board had considered switching to a four-day school week and closing Scenic Elementary School on the Redlands to save money but backed away from those options when the state’s Joint Budget Committee proposed funding school districts at the same level in 2012–13 as it is this school year.
Fruita city leaders say while sending Fruita students to Loma is a better option than sending them to Broadway Elementary on the Redlands, as had been suggested at one point, they’re not sure busing them to a different location is the best answer to start.
In the letter, council members wrote that overcrowding in Fruita schools demonstrates insufficient resources are being dedicated to those schools.
“We feel it is inequitable to have the families with the least resources allocated to them by the District (as evidenced by the overcrowding), be the only families asked to make a sacrifice, by changing the attendance areas of Rimrock Elementary and Shelledy Elementary and also busing Fruita School children to Loma. It is our perception that no other schools are being asked to make any shared sacrifice to address this district-wide budget issue,” the letter reads.
The letter questions whether shuttering an underutilized school could create savings that could be used to address overcrowding in Fruita.
“As public officials, we too are faced with meeting increasing demands with decreasing resources. We know this is difficult, but we would ask that you work to distribute your available resources based on the actual needs of the entire community, not on the demands of a vocal few,” the letter reads.
Mayor Ken Henry and Councilwoman Stacey Mascarenas also expressed disappointment during Tuesday night’s meeting that the School Board didn’t discuss the idea of school boundary changes with the council before making a decision.