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Doyle Park Elementary School closure back on agenda


A controversial proposal to close Doyle Park Elementary School, a move thought by some to be dead at least for this school year, will be brought back to the Santa Rosa City Schools board on March 14.

The sign in front of Doyle Park Elementary School on Sonoma Avenue in Santa Rosa.

Board President Larry Haenel confirmed Tuesday that the proposal would be placed on the agenda for next week’s meeting. The agenda will be released to the public on Friday.

As part of the Doyle Park agenda item, Haenel said, board members will also discuss the possibility of placing the French American charter school at the Doyle Park campus, should it close.

School district administrators and board members had previously insisted that the two issues were separate, but Haenel said that new information has now linked them.

Haenel said that supporters of the French language charter say they have “298 signups,” parents who say they would enroll their kids in the new charter. What’s more, he said that about two-thirds of those students currently attend schools that are outside the district.

Attracting those kids back to the school district means more revenue for a district that is in “dire financial straits, he said.

“None of this information was made public,” he said. “Now we have another consideration. You have quite a few students from out of district on the sign-up list.”

But critics of the proposal say the district is putting the needs of the French charter school before those of Doyle Park’s Latino majority.

Michele Morales, a local Latina activist and member of the North Bay Organizing Project, said that closing Doyle Park would further segregate the district along ethnic lines.

“The catalyst was absolutely the French charter wanting that campus,” Morales said.

But backers of the French school reject such claims.

Jennifer Schwinn, one of the founders, said the planned school would be inclusive and that current Doyle Park students would be given priority enrollment.

“All Doyle Park students are encouraged to stay and enroll at the French American Charter School, if it would be at the Doyle Park campus,” Schwinn said Tuesday

Morales and several others who support keeping Doyle Park open have called for the district to consider placing a dual-immersion Spanish-language charter at Doyle Park.

The school board will consider whether to direct the district to develop a plan for such a school. A dual immersion program is a two-way language curriculum that seeks to preserve the student’s native language, whether French, Spanish or some other language, while teaching them a second language — English.

Several board members, including Haenel, and Doyle Park principal Kaesa Enemark are scheduled on Monday to visit the Cali Calmecac campus, which has an immersion program. However, Haenel said a Spanish language immersion program, if approved, would likely not start until the 2013-2014 school year.

Santa Rosa school administrators revealed in January a plan to close the 61-year-old Doyle Park school site. On Feb. 22, the school board took no vote after it became clear that it was deadlocked 3-3 between closing Doyle Park and keeping it open. The seventh board member, Frank Pugh, abstained because he lives within the school’s residential boundary area.

Doyle Park school staff had scheduled a community meeting for Thursday to discuss what Doyle Park parents want for their kids’ school. That meeting was canceled Monday after school staff learned that the school closure was back on the agenda.

3 Responses to “Doyle Park Elementary School closure back on agenda”

  1. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    I’m mystified about the logic of a French emersion school. The languages I would have thought beneficial to learn in this day and age are Spanish and Chinese. Spanish, because the hispanic population is growing ever larger in California and throughout America and Chinese because they have become a world super power and they have a BIG investment in our country.

    But, hey, the Chinese learn English and other languages in their regular schools’ curriculum in order to communicate with other world populations. They deem it mandatory that their children are properly and THOROUGHLY educated unlike the USA. The Chinese recognize that they can’t compete in the world market with uneducated people.

    Education is the key to a better future for a country and it’s people.

    As for Doyle Park-where will the neighborhood children go and WILL THEY HAVE TRANSPORTATION?

  2. Ken says:

    What does “larger population graphic” mean?

  3. Missy says:

    FAS needs to go in there. There are declining incoming student rates at that school and FAS would ensure a larger population graphic.