Fourth grade eliminated at Encinal School

MORGAN HILL
– No fourth graders will be attending Encinal Elementary School
next fall. The School Board voted last week to reconfigure the
grades housed at Los Paseos Elementary and Encinal Elementary
schools next year.
MORGAN HILL – No fourth graders will be attending Encinal Elementary School next fall. The School Board voted last week to reconfigure the grades housed at Los Paseos Elementary and Encinal Elementary schools next year.

“This is something we need to do, for the long term,” said Board President Jan Masuda. “It is in the best interest of all the students. The strong community and parent support for the schools will make this work.”

The board voted 7-0 to reconfigure Los Paseos to K-4 and Encinal to 5-6.

The district has studied the possibility of closing Encinal, which currently houses fourth through sixth grade students, since the board learned an overpass connecting Highway 101 with Bailey Avenue, less than a football field away from the school, will be built.

The school is located in the southern Coyote Valley within San Jose city limits.

The district cannot move all Encinal students to Los Paseos at this time because there are not enough available classrooms, the bathrooms would be insufficient for the number of students and traffic and parking problems would be worsened.

Five parents expressed their concerns about the consolidation during the meeting.

Parent Lynn Grimsich was concerned that the district had no plan for eventual closing of Encinal.

“This feels like it’s make the move first, plan later,” she said. “If we knew how long it would take (to completely consolidate the schools), maybe we could get behind this more. I kind of like the idea of a gradual transition, but not a transition that stops in the middle and maybe even reverses.”

Deputy Superintendent Bonnie Branco presented the board with a timeline Monday night. The timeline called for developing a facility plan and timeline to be implemented next year.

Parents are concerned about possible reversal of the consolidation because modernization funds for Los Paseos, necessary to expand the school to include fifth and sixth graders, depend upon the passage of the state facilities bond in November. Both Houses of the California Legislature have passed the bond, and it will be included on the November ballot. Los Paseos stands to benefit by $925,567 in state matching funds.

According to the district information packet about the consolidation, “If this $11 billion bond does not pass, we (the district) will have the option of returning to a K-3 and 4-6 environment at those schools.”

Parents were vocal about another concern during the April 8 meeting: who would lead the teachers and fifth and sixth grade students at Encinal if the district removed the principal, saving the district an estimated $200,000? Their question was answered Monday, with the announcement that Ray Jiminez, a former elementary and middle school principal, will be assigned to Encinal during the transition.

Jimenez will continue to represent the district as the expulsion-hearing officer, district safety officer and administrator for the district’s Migrant Program, district officials said Monday.

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