In an effort to bring richer programs to a greater number of students, the Siskiyou Union High School District is taking a closer look at reconfiguring its south county campuses.

Superintendent Mike Matheson will detail the results of a study which looks at combining the Mount Shasta and Weed high school programs during a special board meeting at MSHS on Wednesday, Dec. 8.

The study explores the option of using one campus for freshmen and sophomores and the other for juniors and seniors, Matheson explained. The concept could also combine the athletic programs, with the JV teams linked to the ninth and tenth grade school, and the varsity teams linked to the eleventh and twelfth grade school, he said.

In the near future, it is projected that each of these campuses would have between 240 and 250 students, said Matheson.
Though no decision has been made, Matheson explained the district is “looking at all possible options to provide more programs to students for an amount equal to or less than” the current budget allows.

While the SUHSD talks about combining high schools, Mount Shasta Union Elementary School District is considering a reconfiguration of their two campuses to maintain small class sizes and preserve programs.

With that change, the MSUSD would save approximately $88,000 per year on staffing if the second and third grades were moved from Mount Shasta Elementary School to Sisson.

Though at first look, combining MSHS and WHS wouldn’t be a cost saving move, Matheson said it would probably give the SUHSD the ability to offer every student every program, including career technical programs, advanced placement classes and other activities, such as music and drama.

This could be accomplished because programs wouldn’t need to be duplicated at the two sites, Matheson said. When necessary, teachers could travel between the two sites as opposed to the students traveling, as has been attempted in the past.

“Programs could be more varied because they’d be focused on two grades, and not four... What happens in small schools is that choices become more limited for students, and the ability to offer a variety of classes becomes more difficult. Schedules complicate this even more, because students have to make choices,” Matheson said.

Matheson added that while money would potentially be saved by combining the sports programs, that savings would go toward transporting students from one community to the other.

“There are trade-offs,” he said. “This study is about finding out what the pros and cons of reconfiguration would be.”

Exact numbers won’t be released until the meeting, and many of the details aren’t addressed in the study, such as which campus would be dedicated to which grades, and what the sports teams would be called.

Matheson said he understands this is a difficult concept for many to consider. “Each of the schools and communities [the SUHSD] serves is unique and has a tremendous history and tradition of serving its students... Any future changes must recognize these traditions and use them to build a stronger and sustainable educational system for all.”

Though he couldn’t say when such a change might occur, Matheson said it would be feasible within the next few years and could possibly be done in phases by combining the sports programs first.

All comments made at the Dec. 8 meeting will be recorded and considered, Matheson said. In the future, a survey may be released to gather more information.

A special meeting on the topic will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 8 at Mount Shasta High School in portable P4. All interested students, parents, staff and community members are invited to attend. This item on the agenda is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.