By Gabriel Monte: CNJ Staff Writer
The majority of hands rose simultaneously Monday at the Barry Elementary library when a parent surveyed the room by asking how many parents would keep their child at the school.
The survey was in response to a public forum discussing a rezoning proposal that would shift all students in Chavez Manor base housing to Ranchvale Elementary. A small portion of students living on the west side of housing units attend Barry.
Cannon Air Force Base and Clovis Municipal Schools officials fielded questions from Barry Elementary parents during the meeting, which drew about 70 parents, faculty and staff members from Barry Elementary.
Clovis Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm said rezoning base housing would keep student populations at both schools sizable in the next three years as the base goes through a transition to a Special Operations Wing. And it makes room for growth as the city’s population increases.
Lt. Col. John McLaurin, base liaison to Clovis schools, said the proposal would also remove an arbitrary zone that splits a small portion of base housing.
“It makes no sense to split up our population,” he said.
Seidenwurm said about 80 students from Barry elementary would be affected next year if the Clovis Board of Education approves the proposal.
Parents of Barry Elementary students were concerned the school was unnecessarily moving their children, who already move too much.
Brenda Mason said her children didn’t want to move to Barry Elementary school at first. But she said both her children have acclimated to the school and it would be unfair to move them.
Mason also voiced concerns that Ranchvale would not have the same teaching methods her children are accustomed to at Barry.
Seidenwurm said Clovis schools have the same curriculum, but teaching methods could vary from school to school.
Clovis Board of Education member Mark Lansford said he felt Ranchvale could provide the same quality of education Barry Elementary does.
“From my standpoint, both are great schools, both have great staffs,” Lansford said after the meeting.
Seidenwurm told parents they could keep their children in Barry, but if the board decides to rezone the school, the district cannot provide bus service.
“They’re putting the transportation vise around our necks,” Mason said referring to parents who might not be able to afford driving their children to and from the school.
One parent told Seidenwurm her son’s reading scores improved when he transferred from Ranchvale to Barry.
Barry Elementary Principal Carrie Bunce said she opposes the proposal.
“I don’t want to lose your kids,” she told parents. “I like the make up of our school. I’ve always felt like we offered a good balance.”
Parents also raised concerns their children will not have access to special education programs at Ranchvale.
Seidenwurm said special education programs follow the students and a program could be replicated at Ranchvale if there are enough students that require it.
But in cases were there was a small population of students with special education needs, she said the district will provide transportation to schools that do have it.
Seidenwurm said the proposal could be put in front of the Board of Education during its April 22 meeting.