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The Closing of a Costa Mesa School

May 25, 1986

I feel deceived. I was under the impression that we had real people on our school board. I was led to believe that they were concerned, caring individuals with minds of their own who could vote with conscience. What I found was a panel of superintendent puppets.

When the issue of closing the Bear Street School was brought before the Newport-Mesa Unified school board again this year, the parents in our community were willing to compromise. We know that the economy has not allowed us extra luxuries in our school district.

We are aware that the district's overall enrollment is down. In our concession to close Bear Street School, we asked that all our students be sent to the Paularino site, rather than isolate less than 2% of our children at the Sonora site. We also asked for safe transportation for our children to this new site. Reasonable requests, we thought. We were in for a surprise!

After our response to Supt. John Nicoll's initial proposal to close our school and split the student body, the board dangled a carrot before our eyes. It showed us statistics that supported our proposals and agreed in private one-on-one discussions that the students would benefit by transferring together. We relaxed our defenses.

Then came the time to vote. We sat in shock as our elected board members voted unanimously to accept Nicoll's proposal to close the school and draw boundary lines, which excluded the 2% of our students from the new Paularino zone. Could these puppets be the same people who assured us that the concerns of our community were logical, sensible and made statistically more opportunities for our students?

Why did it pretend our voices would make a difference? The board obviously had its mind made up by the time this issue first hit the agenda.

Voters, something must be done! We are the only people who can get a school board that will vote as individuals, with concern for the community. Remember this when the incumbents are up for reelection. The parents of Bear Street School certainly will.

CHARLENE METOYER

Costa Mesa

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