Low Enrollment Not a Threat to Capo Schools

The decline in enrollment doesn’t have district’s trustees considering any school closures.

While enrollment numbers are relatively low at several schools, district officials say there is no need to worry about any campus closures.

Last year, facing a financial crises of their own, two local school districts—Saddleback Valley Unified and Fountain Valley Unified—shuttered two schools as a way to help close their budget shortfalls.

This year, by the end of this month, close to 15 percent of its $372 million budget. 

However, Gary Pritchard, president of the CUSD board of trustees, said no reports have been filed that a Capo school is under-enrolled and they "are not considering closing any[more] schools" after in Mission Viejo, which closes this month.

Barcelona’s enrollment dropped to less than 250 after a new charter school, Oxford Preparatory Academy, was given approval to share its campus.

Even without a campus-share situation, enrollment figures have been steadily creeping down the last few years, dropping below the 50,000 mark, according to financial documents presented at trustee meetings.

Now, San Clemente, Mission Viejo, San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Niguel all have elementary schools with fewer than 450 students.

Schools receive money based on how many students on average show up to school every day. By September, it is expected that the district will have lost 1,590 students since 2010-11, according to a PowerPoint presentation the board viewed in February.

Pritchard acknowledged the decline in enrollment overall and attributed it to the lack of new families moving into CUSD cities, and not a reflection of the district’s performance.

“Our schools provide a great service and the district is ran well,” he said.

When Fountain Valley Unified faced a $2 million district deficit in 2011, the school board decided to close its only K-8 school, saving the district approximately $375,000 a year. There were 453 students who attended the school at the time.

By comparison, 701 students attend Carl Hankey School and 1,019 are at Arroyo Vista, both K-8 schools in Capo Unified.

Closer to home, Saddleback Valley Unified shut down Aliso Elementary last year when it was facing a $3.8 million per year budget gap. Saddleback officials said by moving the 385 students to other local schools, they would save $400,000 annually.

Capo expects to save less by closing Barcelona. According to a Capo Unified internal document, by eliminating the positions of principal ($146,000), lead custodian ($60,480) and attendance clerk ($53,928), the district saves $240,408.

Marcus Walton, chief communications officer for the district, said a specific figure has not been calculated for closing a school within the Capo district.

“Our schools are so tightly staffed that the savings would be smaller than some might expect,” he said.

Pritchard said before his time as board president, Wood Canyon Elementary in Aliso Viejo had approximately 1,200 students enrolled. The school currently has 475 students.

Some of the CUSD elementary schools with the lowest enrollment for the 2011-12 school year include:

Laguna Niguel Elementary Laguna Niguel 600 Hidden Hills Elementary Laguna Niguel 495

Crown Valley Elementary

Laguna Niguel 294 Marian Bergeson Elementary
Laguna Niguel 488 Wood Canyon Elementary
Aliso Viejo 475 Reilly Elementary
Mission Viejo 396 Viejo Elementary
Mission Viejo 413 Lobo Elementary
San Clemente 414 Benedict Elementary
San Clemente 698 Ambuehl Elementary
San Juan Capistrano


— Penny Arévalo contributed to this story.

OC Mom June 02, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Capo Schools and all schools could be funded adequately without increasing taxes if we cut out waste like this. Note: This is a CALsters abuse by a former City of Vernon employee. This guy actually has the nerve to fight for the money he fraudulently acquired. City of Vernon has 100 citizens. Unbelievable! http://taxdollars.ocregister.com/2012/06/01/convicted-ex-vernon-official-will-fight-400000-pension-reduction/156032/
Anonymous June 02, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Penny The comments from the OPA parents underscore a few of the concerns I raised in the beginning. First, kids with discipline problems can be removed at will. They would then most likely go back to the non-charter school. Mainstream schools don't have that luxury. OPA can't adequately address Special Ed kids and from the parents I have spoken to that have left that school there are shortcomings in the athletic standards. Add to that that they can't service special needs or those that need nutritional help (breakfasts and/or lunch ) and we aren't comparing apples to apples. The result is that OPA and similar schools are able to "cherry pick" since they simply can't admit all students that might want to go there, or won't admit them, and if the kids or parents aren't up to their discipline or other standards the kids can be asked to leave. Hence the stratification I addressed before and the likelihood that test results would be skewed. I am all for OPA or other "charter" schools is their performance is tracked over several years and it can be shown they aren't discriminatory. Oxford needs at least three or four years to prove itself and having a "waiting list" doesn't justify an expansion or shutting down Palisades or SCHS to meet their desires. OPA has a business model and like any business you shouldn't expand without long term data to support it. Bottom line, OPA has one school and for several years that's the way it is likely to stay
Penny Arévalo (Editor) June 03, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Two-Way kicks out kids for behavior AND academic reasons. I bet IB does, too. While you may not like the law, the BOT was following it when it granted the expansion. Or perhaps you're disappointed in 2 of the new guys and want to launch another recall (KIDDING! Just a joke, people, don't get riled up, we are actually doing really well in the comment thread) :-)
Erica Cox June 03, 2012 at 03:19 AM
*sigh* - where to start Anonymous? Yes, last year, OPA asked for copies of my kid's report cards and STAR tests. They told me it was so they had a head start on getting the records started for all the kids. I was nervous. My son, has an IEP and just below-average STAR scores. My daughter had a PERFECT Lang-Arts score and an Advanced Math score. Do you wanna guess which kid was admitted??? That's right, the SPECIAL NEEDS/IEP child was admitted. Yep - quite the conspiracy against diversity and serving those in need. I also consider it the height of hypocrisy for anyone to say that parents who leave CAPO and have complaints are bitter and anecdotal. But any parent who might have left OPA is proof of how unproven they are. My son had his BEST year ever. His overall comprehension and understanding are way up and for the 1st time, he felt really good about the STAR testing - saying he understood it this year. He did homework every night, without asking. He participated in the Chess, Track and Surf clubs (he never played a team sport before) And his teacher was accessible, responsive and handled his classroom beautifully. If CAPO has low testing scores (or remain average for years and years) it is considered great. But IF OPA somehow does a good job RAISING existing scores of their currently enrolled students...it's unproven? What if my kid's scores go up? I've said it before and I'll say it again...the establishment is scared. And it should be
OC Mom June 03, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Thank you for sharing your experience Mom in SJC. I registered for the OPA lottery at Kinoshita. I was asked for the immunization records and copies of report cards. We provided copies of STAR test results several weeks after school started because we didn't get the results until August and my family applied for the lottery last year in the Spring before those results were in. Thank you for proving that the IEP didn't prevent your son from being admitted and that he made a lot of progress. My children said the STAR test was easy this year. SCN, These comments that we as parents are selfish to worry about our "own" children instead of everyone elses remind me of a familiar thing I hear from my kids. They usually tell me that a classmate hasn't even started a report or project yet, when I'm trying to get them to begin theirs. My response is always, " Well, that's fine because they're not my responsibility!" "My job is to make sure that you're self sufficient and can live on your own someday." My kids will not be living in my spare room or basement as adults. Failure is not an option. My children have learned that if you try your best you haven't failed. There's usually room for improvement and we can learn from our mistakes. When my oldest doesn't do well on a quiz or exam and I question what went wrong sometimes they mention the poor results of other classmates too and I go back to that same comment. Do any other moms deal with these kind of excuses from their kids?
Penny Arévalo (Editor) June 03, 2012 at 04:37 AM
Regarding this statement: "OPA can't adequately address Special Ed kids." It's my understanding (anyone from OPA can correct me, I'm going from memory when the charter was first proposed more than a year ago), CUSD is contracted to provide the Special Ed services.
Proud Mom June 03, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Penny, You are correct. Special Ed. services are contracted out through CUSD.
Capo Parent June 03, 2012 at 04:46 AM
Anonymous is a union hack who goes out of his or her way to spread lies and misinformation, e..g. OPA is not a non-profit. You make very telling points. CTA and its allies fear charter schools because they represent a school choice for parents that happens to dilute the power and influence of CTA. Why do you think CTA is sponsoring and pushing AB 1172? Pam Sunderman (a CTA member) claims CTA is pushing AB 1172 because it is in the best interest of public education and our kids. In truth, AB 1172 is all about keeping CTA's dominance over public education intact, parental school choice be dam..
OC Mom June 03, 2012 at 06:45 AM
SCN, I had a bit of an epiphany the other day about what Pam/Jolly's real motives are for posting on Patch and OC Register. Of course self preservation comes to mind, but I think she is also a Momma Grizzly like us trying to protect her young. She has shared that her daughter teaches in CUSD. I won't google or try to figure out who she is, but I will assume that she wants her daughter to have a similar experience teaching that she did. I'm sure she is hoping that her daughter will work in a nice environment and will retire with a secure pension enabling her to travel and live well after she has worked hard for 30 years. I think we may have more in common with Pam that anyone will admit to. Responsible parents who contribute to society hope to contribute productive, self reliant citizens. There are bad parents out there who never give a thought to their children's future or how to better it. My family is still struggling with overcoming that disadvantage that my spouse and I were given. We give our all to ensure that our children have a higher quality life than we did at their age. Unfortunately, due to the economy and poor fiscal management on the part of CUSD and the State of CA for many years I'm not confident that anyone other than the uber wealthy's children will have a high quality lifestyle.
Moving On June 03, 2012 at 07:12 AM
I went to the CUEA website, clicked on Negotiations and reviewed the power point presentation update in April 2012. Please review what the District Proposed - a mixture of cuts to the teachers and giving them more time release. Then I reviewed the CUEA Proposal - my eyes were surprised to see what CUEA proposed. CUEA Proposal: - Time limits for time spent beyond work hours on meetings Allow for school calendar to be negotiated Decrease number of duties for elementary teachers Modify student spring conference requirements Form joint CUEA/CUSD committee regarding elementary combo classes Then there is a statement that is telling: Evaluate the District’s budget to make sure that all savings have been incorporated prior to employees taking additional cuts. Again, the kids take the cuts first, the teachers what more perks, where is the negotiations, really? Seriously, this has to be a joke. The teachers are the ones that decided to increase class size/increase their work load and keep their current pay and throw the newer teachers under the bus. You tell me how the union is looking out for the kids? I just do not see it. I only see the union looking out for the union/teachers. No wonder we have charter schools and people like me leaving.
OC Mom June 03, 2012 at 07:15 AM
So I extend an olive branch to you and concede that you might be like us looking out for the interest of your child and you think I'm stalking you? Scouts honor, I've never googled your children. You mentioned in a post at some point that your daughter taught in CUSD. The thought crossed my mind the other day that like us you might be concerned more about your child's future than your own. I know I've heard some of my Liberal relatives remark in dismay that their own kids will never enjoy the same lifestyle as them because of the high cost of housing, college, etc. Several of my relatives bought condos or gave homes to their children and they still struggle with the high cost of CA living. Some of my relatives have private sector pensions which are unheard of today. Now you are threatening to quash our free speech. Who is the bully? I revealed your identity because you were posting non stop on all kinds of educational articles and you were very arrogant about it. Then to find out that you were living in an uber expensive community not in CUSD while demanding tax increases from taxpayers in CUSD. All I wanted to do was make clear to other readers what your motives were. At that point I thought it was only self preservation of your pension. My family is seriously exploring moving out of State at this point. You will be taking food from my children's mouths if we have to pay more in taxes.Not everyone in CUSD is wealthy. Some are living in South OC on IE income.
Pam Sunderman June 03, 2012 at 07:34 AM
I mentioned that my daughter is a teacher. I now realize that I never should have mentioned her at all. I am proud that she is a teacher and she is a wonderful teacher. But I never thought that anyone would stoop low enough to make insinuations about her. I am requesting the same respect for my family that I have expressed for yours. I have also wished your family the best. I am requesting that you use your freedom of speech appropriately. You did not reveal my identity...I did. I just felt that I would be taking more personal responsibility by posting as myself. Posting anonymously can lead to a less than civil discussion...I experienced that in myself. I have asked the moderators to review this discussion. It is in their hands. But I will not subject my family to the rancor I have experienced here. They do not deserve it. There is absolutely no justification for either of you to bring anyone's family into this discussion. I would never do it. I see no one else doing it. You have never done it before. And it needs to stop right now. I am also requesting that you delete the post about my daughter. It is inaccurate and unacceptable.
OC Mom June 03, 2012 at 07:43 AM
I do remember Pam asking SCN to google her when she wouldn't answer the volunteer question.
Moving On June 03, 2012 at 07:46 AM
@Pam - you and I may not agree on the subject/topics/issues that we are "debating" on this site - however, I agree, family is off limits. I will always respect that for all posters on this site, no matter which side of the fence they are on and I try very hard as well not to attack anyone personally - I know how it feels, so I do not do it in return. I respect all opinions, even if I do not agree, that is what makes this a place to come and voice our opinions on the topic at hand.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) June 03, 2012 at 08:24 AM
Can everyone just please go to sleep and calmer heads will prevail in the a.m.? Thanks! (your very sleepy editor)
Anonymous June 03, 2012 at 08:32 AM
Pam Thank you for always putting kids first. This blog is hard to read because many people take it to the extreme. I am not a teacher or union member but because I suggested that CUSD should wait a few years to gather data before allowing OPA to expand to other campuses I was called a "union hack"? I am guessing because some people are so motivated by money that they assume others must be too. I believe in public education. I see greed and selfishness and it disturbs me. Adults bully too. Tonight I volunteered as a chaperone for a South County high school prom. The cross section of kids was incredible. There were no fights or drinking instances and I saw a remarkable maturity and acceptance among these kids. The classes elected a recent immigrant from Africa as their king and a wonderful girl in special ed as their queen. There were others in the prom court that were also outside the stereotype for South OC. Kids of the same sex danced together and it didn’t matter to their peers if they were gay or not. There were kids that were homeless that were there too. The students and faculty obviously respected and liked each other. You would have been proud to see how far CUSD has come. Good luck to OPA in your experiment but for the other 49,000 students; voters won’t allow CUSD to become a string of charter school franchises.
Pam Sunderman June 03, 2012 at 09:27 AM
Anonymous, Your story about the prom only confirms what I know to be true about CUSD. It is full of caring, exemplary educators who teach great kids whose parents care very much about their students. Society has a lot of challenges. Those challenges are reflected in the schools. And the schools are working hard to meet those challenges. What you saw tonight is the proof of that. I am very proud. Some of my former students were probably there :). I treasured my years in CUSD and have nothing but respect for the parents, students and teachers...all of them. Even those I disagree with on some issues. But no one should doubt my motives for posting here. If my pension was my only concern I would just take more trips (surely I am allowed to take a trip abroad for the first time in 45 years) and enjoy it without exposing myself to the abuse that some posters consider an appropriate weapon. I have saved for a long time to supplement my pension so I could travel when I retired. Are educators allowed to supplement their pension? Can we make other investments? Or is that double dipping? Are other investments only allowed in the private sector? I was the only teacher on my tour to Italy. All those other folks who are retired from the private sector also managed to afford the trip. And no one should tolerate bullying. I will not be bullied and I will not tolerate anyone who brings my family into this discussion.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) June 03, 2012 at 02:27 PM
OK guys,I'm giving you to the time I get back from church (noon) to clean up your act. I've asked you personally to get back on topic. Either do it, or I close this thread. How many times have I said STOP DISCUSSING EACH OTHER. My goodness, we have a school district that's about to be decimated, but this is more important? People may delete what they want to delete. For the record, there's a huge difference between publishing the names of minors without parent permission, and publishing the names of adult family members that are easily found elsewhere (especially if you're the one who chose to put them out there). There are no threats, no libel, automatically attached to that by definition.It's what one does with the info. I see not one threat. I don't even see an insult. Really, someone takes a vacation and that's fuel for a flame war? And no, it's not my job to tell people in their off time they shouldn't be Googling others or checking out profiles (which ARE visible to the public, that's your decision) on Facebook. I am not the police for the entire internet. I don't even enjoy doing that here. People should be mature. IE, grow up! So by all means, if you want to repair any future online relationships (trust me, Monday's story will be worth it, and you BETTER stay on topic there), delete as you feel lead. But if you continue to go down the personal road, which is BORING for everyone else but you,I WILL close the thread. See you at noon.
Yeparoo June 03, 2012 at 03:46 PM
It doesn't seem reasonable to not be considering merging some of the low attendance schools into nearby schools. When the reality of the funding cuts sinks in with the parents this fall, it is fairly poor optics to not be addressing facility utilization issues. Underutilization causes a much higher cost per pupil in overhead for those underused campuses (facility and admin staffing costs). Plus in areas that attendance is unlikely to pick back up, the sale or lease of the campuses would be a new source of funds. Good luck explaining why campus closures aren't being considered to parents who are seeing larger class sizes, loss of extracurricular activities, reduction of advanced courses and fewer campus supervisors. Not to mention to the educators who are being laid off or having their salaries and benefits cut. I doubt anything can be done without a thorough study for 12-13, but not to be even considering maximizing scare resources is very poor governance. Since the budget shortfalls have been know for some time, why no serious effort to study? At a minimum I suggest a comprehensive review with a clear slate for boundaries and work from that point.
Pam Sunderman June 03, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Penny, My family has no connections to CUSD and I am appalled that they can be drawn into these discussions. I guess this is what happens when you post under your own name. What a shame. It has given me a valuable lesson about cyber privacy. I am taking steps to protect my privacy and my family's privacy on the internet. I may take a break here. I am not interested in being attacked personally. And I will not subject my family to attacks on a blog that they have nothing to do with. But I will not be bullied by anyone.
Capo Parent June 03, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Moving On No matter what Pam or anyone else posts remember this simple fact, the teachers union represents its members and its members only. It's main job is to get the best compensation package for its members. In that regard, it has been very successful, getting CUSD to give back roughly $20 million over 2 years. CUSD should be negotiating for our kids/students and their parents, but as we have seen over the last 1 1/2 years, that hasn't panned out. What we need is for an independent negotiator or parent committee (no PTA or union members) to be at the negotiating table for our kids/students and their parents.
randy June 03, 2012 at 04:10 PM
New Wild West! Internet's open as a big ocean to swim, remember?
Capo Parent June 03, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Maybe you should quite while your only slightly behind. Your shrill cries of cyber bullying are laughable at best. You are the poster with the split personality; you are the poster who has now "come out" posting in her real name; you are the one that invited others to Google you; and you are the poster who announce on this blog that your daughter teachers in CUSD. If you don't want others delving into your "private life" then stop opening the doors for them to do so. FYI, if one can Google you and get information on you and your family, then the information isn't private and unfortunately for you, is fair game. That's why most of us posting here don't use our real names.
Capo Parent June 03, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Yeparoo How would we know? It appears CUSD and the unions are discussing budget issues in close session in order to freeze out the parents and keep them in the dark until after the school year is over when their attention are fixed on the summer and summer time activities. What backroom deals have already been negotiate between the unions and CUSD without any public knowledge and/or input? Remember, when the union backed and supported candidates promised open, honest and transparent governance? They lied, and we (and more importantly our kids/students) have and will suffer greatly for their duplicity.
Teacher June 03, 2012 at 04:54 PM
SCN, I weep as I think about a future in which parents like you home school their children. Your posts are choppy at best, grammatically incorrect, and have the appearance of the ramblings of a lunatic. Sadly, many of your ideas are ok but your presentation is a mess. You are going to homeschool your children? They deserve much better.
LeAna Bui June 03, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Penny: If you can't see how an anonymous person posting the names of family members of non-anonymous posters is threatening then I will be pulling my info and will refrain from posting further as well. My family is not a part of this debate, but I, like Pam, post under my real name and I have nothing to hide. Just because I chose to stand up with my own name does not mean my family should have their names thrown around by a bunch of anonymous posters. I think this thread should be shut down.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) June 03, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Thank you , Yep, and CP for actually getting back to the topic.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) June 03, 2012 at 05:39 PM
How terribly sad that a teacher cannot follow clear instructions. This thread will close in a few minutes. I welcome future participation mathteacher, if you can stick to the actual topic and not discuss fellow commentators.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) June 03, 2012 at 05:42 PM
LeAna, do you blog about your family? Is your Facebook profile public? If not, you're fine. Remember, I would absolutely draw the line at bringing in one's minor children. And I've all admonished you HEAVILY to stick to the topic and not each other, which apparently is just too difficult for most people here. So the thread will close. Not because there were any actual threats (there were not), but because you all need a time out.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) June 03, 2012 at 05:47 PM
And so I bring this thread to a close. Sadly, there was a lot of childish behavior on the part of many parties, on both side of the issues. On Monday, you'll have another chance to discuss the CUSD budget. Here's a hint; DISCUSS THE CUSD BUDGET. I had to LOLwhen the internet was discussed in church today. I leave you with this to ponder: "Communication is now global, instant and permanent." So choose your words wisely. Many of you have not done that. Also said in church today, quoting an article from The Atlantic (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/6868/) "And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski."


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