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No Plans to Close School, Despite Committee's Advice

September 10, 1987|BILL BILLITER | Times Staff Writer

Although a citizens study group has recommended closure of one of the seven high schools in the Huntington Beach Union High School District, "we're no way close to doing something like that right now," district Supt. Lawrence Kemper said Wednesday.

"Closing of a high school is something we haven't even talked about," Kemper added. "The board will study the committee's recommendations. But even if the board were to consider closing a school, there would be many months of deliberation.

"Also, state law requires that a separate group of parents and community members, called a school closure committee, would have to be appointed to make recommendations."

The citizens group gave the board a list of 23 proposals Tuesday night to help the district budget. The major item--one that seems certain to cause controversy--is that a high school be closed by the fall of 1990. Closing a high school would save $2.5 million a year, the committee said.

The 26-member committee, appointed by the school board last March, did not specify any school that should close.

The seven high schools in the district are Huntington Beach High, Edison High, Ocean View High, Marina High and Wintersburg Continuation High School, all in Huntington Beach, and Fountain Valley High and Westminster High.

Because of declining enrollment, the district has been suffering continual budget problems. Last March, the elected school board named 26 parents and other community members to a special committee to study ways to keep spending down without laying off teachers.

When the board last winter began painful budget cuts, rumors swept Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley and Westminster that a school would be closed. Moreover, because a community newspaper mentioned Ocean View High as the likely school to close, parents and students from that school packed the next board meeting in protest.

The school board assured the protesting parents and students that no school was targeted for closure.

The school board, at its meeting Tuesday night, did not discuss any of the recommendations of the citizens panel. Kemper said the board has asked to meet with the committee members later this month.

Brian Lake, a member of the school board for 9 1/2 years, Wednesday said he doubts that any high school will be closed.

"I don't think it's likely," he said. "Before the board would ever close a high school, it would have to be convinced that the enrollment will be down for years and years and years to come, not just in the short term.

"To close a school for a short-term benefit certainly wouldn't be a prudent thing."

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