The public education landscape is shifting in our area as well — also reshaping local historical tradition.
One stirring example: A 128-year tradition — the Donation Day Parade — now begins at James S. Hennessy public elementary school.
“In 1936, Mr. Hennessy, our school’s namesake, gave his homestead ranch to Grass Valley with a vision of a school where children could grow, learn, and thrive. With the school so close to town, Hennessy students also experience an appreciation for community events and local historical traditions,” as the school’s website reads.
Now Hennessy is going to become Grass Valley Charter School, the school district’s board of trustees decided on Tuesday night. The board chose Reconfiguration Proposal 3 Final-1 among three, an option I reported previously. Some regular readers here attended the meeting.
The proposal allows adequate space for GV Charter — whose campus has been split — but it also displaces all Hennessy students, impacts walking families and eliminates a before and after school program at Hennessy.
This is a sign of the times: A “growth revenue” agreement with the Charter would generate about $60,000 for the school district, according to the “reconfiguration” proposal.
Grass Valley Charter is an outstanding school, and I am confident it will proudly uphold the tradition as the starting point for the Donation Day Parade — where children march through the streets carrying donations of canned goods for local families. The parade’s history is here.
To be sure, the Hennessy children had been joined by classmates from all schools in the area: traditional public, charter and private. That will continue.
As for their stewardship, the Grass Valley Charter students and parents were instrumental in helping to garner support for the “Save the Yuba River” effort, including an appearance in Sacramento.
Still, the school board’s decision should be a time to reflect on a longstanding problem in our area: Whether we have too many school districts to support our declining public-school enrollment. Are administrators being too reactive, not proactive, in coping with it?
This painful decision also should cause the school administrator’s to reflect why the charter schools are being formed in the first place. No question about it: Our traditional public schools — long praised as a local asset — are at a crossroads.
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