El Rancho Unified School District, located in the city of Pico Rivera, began to experience a decline in enrollment during the 2003-04 school year. By the 2007-08 school year, they had reduced 48 certifiable positions and had 39 available classrooms. While their high school was busting at the seams, the enrollment in their 12 elementary schools was on the decline and all projections indicated this trend would continue.
It became clear that consolidating elementary schools would be necessary. However, closing schools is very political, and past experience indicated it would be a time-consuming process. “Our Superintendent had been through a similar process years ago and spent countless hours repositioning pinheads on a map to change boundaries,” says Lydia Cano, Chief Business Officer for the district. “We knew there was an easier way to get the information we needed and we had to act fast.” El Rancho quickly began seeking outside consultants who could help them manage this process.
In the fall of 2007, the district contracted with us to help them determine which schools should be closed. We quickly gathered the necessary information and the district was up and running with our platform in January 2008. A District Facilities Advisory Committee formed which met for six weeks. During this time, they used our solution to review multiple scenarios, and ultimately made a recommendation to the Board as to which schools should be closed.
The Advisory Committee met with the Board in April 2008. Their presentation indicated the need to close three schools. At the May 2008 meeting, the Board decided to close four elementary schools. Despite requiring the use of portables for a time, the Board opted to close an additional school now rather than re-visit another closure in the near future. The 2008-09 school year is off to a smooth start with projected numbers being right on the mark.