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On Monday, October 19th, parents of the charter school California Montessori Project (CMP)-Capitol Campus where surprised to learn through a letter from CMP Director, Gary Bowman, that Mr. Raymond, the new Superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD), was requesting that the Capitol Campus be relocated from the Old Marshall School (2718 G Street), a facility the school had moved into only 3 months prior, because the building was now deemed unsafe. The Capitol Campus is to be relocated in the Thomas Jefferson Elementary School (in the College Glen area) far from the current location forcing hundreds of families on the roads. Moreover the campus has to leave the premises in a hurry, in the middle of the school year -the move has already been planned for November 11th- even though parents learned through a subsequent letter from Gary Bowman (dated Thursday October 22nd) that there is "no imminent danger" and even though no one has yet seen the full report on which the SCUSD based its decision. Parents were not consulted, either about the time frame or by the choice of the new location. There is a perception among the parents community that the SCUSD is forcing a hasty decision in order to facilitate some ulterior plan. Read more here
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson's slogan for Sacramento is "A City That Works For Everyone". How can the central city work for families if school are disappearing? CMP- Capitol Campus is the only Charter School offering a free-tuition Montessori education in the downtown/midtown area, attracting an extremely diverse community of families. The rightly named “Capitol Campus” has been in existence for eight years (first in the Pioneer Church on L Street, then since August 2009, in the Old Marshall School, where it was able to receive more students and extend its offering to 7th and 8th graders). Many families have made the choice to live in the downtown area because they believe in minimizing their environmental impact and improving the quality of life by living close to work and school. Last August, the Old Marshall School neighborhood community welcomed the school with open arms and big smiles, it was viewed as an important moment in the life of our city. Read more here. Parents are worried that their vision to make midtown more friendly and welcoming to families will never materialize if there are no schools to support families.
Open letter to Susan Miller, Associate Superintendent Sacramento City Unified
Dear Susan Miller,
Thank you for your message, even though it is a form letter that all parents received as a reply; and even though it came when everything had already been decided without any real input from us, the parents. This doesn't reflect a real concern for our situation! Only SCUSD Board member Jerry Houseman has shown a real interest in our problem by engaging into individual and thoughtful conversations, not only with me but with all the parents from whom he had received a letter.
We are forced to move but we still haven't seen the famous report from the architects and engineers hired by the District that claim that the Old Marshall School is not in compliance with the California Building Codes. We, as parents, are very curious to learn what the real problem with the school is: how exactly is the Old Marshall Building not in compliance? When are we going to be able to see and review the full report?
I was looking forward to meeting Superintendent Jonathan Raymond on November 3rd but now I am worried that he will give us the same kind of general, non-specific answers.
It is indeed "most unfortunate" -to quote your words- that our whole school Community has to be uprooted to the College Glen area, nice in itself but not what I signed up for when I enrolled my kids into the "CAPITOL" Campus of CMP. I will now have to spend 20 to 30 minutes on the freeway to take my kids to school every day (which is almost 2 hours in the car each day) when our commute to school is right now only 7 minutes (less than 30 minutes per day in the car).
If I had wanted to drive so far just so that my children would have a soccer field near their school or a real multi-purpose room, I could have signed up for another CMP Campus. What is now the choice of the parents who have chosen the environmentally conscious lifestyle of living, working, shopping, entertaining, and taking their kids to school in downtown Sacramento?
How is it more safe for our family to drive so long to go to school? There is more chance that my children would get injured in a car accident than there is that the Old Marshall School would ever fall on their heads!
We had a nice location at the Pioneer Church that we were outgrowing, so yes we were looking for another location in the downtown area, but we could have stayed there another year or two, till we find the perfect place... Now we have no choice but to take our kids to a distant school or leave CMP in the middle of the school year, which as you know very well is an almost impossible task, not only because the schools are full but because of the hardship it would impose on our children.
The only real support from the District that I would have been grateful for would have been if you had helped us find a location in the downtown area (even if it was only a temporary solution), by working in collaboration with the state or even commercial building owners, so that our families could have remained where we have chosen to be by enrolling our kids into the CMP Capitol Campus.
Cecile Downs, a distressed and frustrated parent of two CMP students.