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Lodi Unified School District board to discuss closing Tokay Colony Elementary

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Posted: Saturday, March 2, 2013 12:00 am

Due to fewer and fewer students enrolling each year, Tokay Colony Elementary School could be looking at closure in a year's time.

The Lodi Unified School District Board of Trustees will meet on Tuesday to vote on whether to begin plans to move Tokay Colony students to another site and shut down the school.

Board president Ralph Womack said the discussion doesn't necessarily point to a closure.

"It's based solely on having enough kids to have classes. I don't suspect it means closure. It's about reevaluating the number of classes we can have," he said.

In the 2012-13 school year, only four kindergartners were registered at Tokay Colony, while four were registered through the Migrant Camp on Harney Lane. That year, the school enrolled 94 students.

Nine students registered at Tokay Colony for the school year starting this August, but five of them requested transfers to other schools.

Such small enrollment means most classes must be set up as combination classes with 12 to 24 students each. That number will reduce further in the months when the migrant students leave.

District staff have created a plan to move Tokay Colony kindergarten and first-grade students to Live Oak Elementary or other schools for the next school year.

There has been past discussion on making the move to Live Oak based on the close proximity of both schools. The campuses are about six miles apart along Live Oak Road.

The plan calls for reducing staff from four teachers to three, and at least two combination classes will remain.

If the board approves the plan, a community forum will be held in August to discuss the future of the school and review possible new boundaries for Tokay Colony and other rural schools, including Lockeford, Live Oak and Victor schools.

"Any time there's a move like this, some people like it and some people don't," said Womack.

Trustee Bonnie Cassel lives in Clements and has watched historic Clements School move from being closed to becoming a community center. She emphasized the importance of hearing from the neighbors before making a choice about Tokay Colony.

"That school really serves as a community center for that area," said Cassel. "There is strong parental support, and multiple generations of families have attended. Its roots are very well established."

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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