Lammersville decision has big Tracy impact
by Jaclyn Hirsch / Tracy Press
Jun 11, 2010 | 4526 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A voter casts a ballot in the Mountain House Community Service District building, where all three precincts conducted their votes.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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The Lammersville Elementary School District will separate from Tracy Unified School District next year and form an independent school district with its own high school, thanks to overwhelming voter approval of Measure A in Tuesday’s special election.

As soon as 2013, Mountain House High School could open its doors to Mountain House and rural Tracy students. When that happens, Tracy Unified will lose a chunk of its enrollment and the money from the state that goes along with the students.

Mountain House children attend Lammersville Elementary schools through eighth grade and continue their education at Tracy high schools.

Tracy Unified employees estimated about 300 Mountain House kids will attend Tracy schools next school year, which amounts to about $1.7 million in state money. School officials said the number of kids from Mountain House that travel to Tracy for high school has increased each year as the population in Mountain House continues to grow. The number of students Tracy will lose could be close to 700 by the time a high school in Mountain House opens, they said

Tracy Unified will have about 6,400 high school students next school year and a total of about 15,000 students in the district. It had a budget of about $99 million for 2009-10 but cut more than $12 million from the budget for the coming school year because of a reduction in money from the state for education.

Tracy Unified Superintendent Jim Franco said he is not worried about what the decrease in enrollment spurred by the Lammersville split will mean for the budget.

“When you lose the students, you also lose the expenses for educating them,” Franco said. “We’re obviously going to lose income, but we’re going to lose expenses, (too).”

He said future growth in the planned Tracy Hills and Ellis developments would add more students to Kimball High School, the district’s newest school, when the areas are built.

“As the population from one area leaves, there will be room for a new population that develops,” he said.

Franco said this is an opportunity to redefine the district’s partnership with Lammersville, and he hopes to work together to offer Lammersville Unified students the ability to take specialized classes, such as Advanced Placement courses and the Space and Engineering Academy curriculum at West High School.

Officials in the Lammersville Elementary School District have worked for more than two years to separate from Tracy Unified School District and form what is now the Lammersville Joint Unified School District.

Lammersville Elementary School District, as it exists today, has about 1,800 students, three elementary schools — plus a fourth opening in the fall — and a budget of nearly $19 million.

Superintendent Dale Hansen said the process began with analyzing whether breaking from Tracy Unified could work, and whether Lammersville could afford its own high school. He said both districts studied the numbers, and an independent consultant agreed that it was practical.

He said reaching a deal with Tracy Unified was the biggest hurdle the district faced through the unification process.

“They had a lot of questions about the feasibility of doing this, and that was an obstacle,” Hansen said.

Hansen said meetings to work out the details eventually convinced Tracy Unified trustees to approve a deal that allowed Lammersville to become an independent district. He said the district plans to continue its partnership with Tracy Unified so students from Mountain House can take classes in Tracy.

Lammersville also needed the approval of the county and state education offices before the measure could go on the ballot.

The special election Tuesday also elected a new school board for the independent district.

Two present school board members — Ben Fobért and James Hiramoto — won seats on the new board, along with former school board member Matthew Balzarini, rural Tracy native and local farmer David Pombo and Micaela Vergara, a fourth-grade teacher in Dublin.

Defeated in the election were Lammersville Elementary School District board president Shane Nielson, newcomer Jake Johnson and school board member Atul Khanna. Nielson has sat on the school board six years, and Khanna four.

The unified board will take office June 22, though the elementary board will continue to govern the elementary school district until July 2011.

Fobért and Hiramoto will meet with both school boards until the Lammersville Elementary School District board is dismantled.

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