The Siskiyou Union High School District board of trustees heard more about a possible campus reconfiguration during their regular meeting last Wednesday at McCloud High School.

The Siskiyou Union High School District board of trustees heard more about a possible campus reconfiguration during their regular meeting last Wednesday at McCloud High School.

Many trustees said they hope the Dec. 8 community reconfiguration meeting opened eyes to inevitable changes that are coming to the district due to declining enrollment.

“There’s a long road ahead, and [reconfiguration] is just one of many options that we will need to look into,” said  longtime board member John Hines.

“I’m extremely proud of our community for coming out in such numbers,” said superintendent Mike Matheson, adding he was impressed with the detailed questions that were asked.

“I, too, was impressed,” said board member Margaret DeBortoli. “People are obviously concerned about their kids’ education. They were open to listening to possibilities.”

In the next five to seven years, it’s projected that Mount Shasta High School will have 100 less students, making it impossible for the school to run as it does currently.

This problem is coupled with massive budget cuts at the state level and possible  future changes in Weed High School’s Necessary Small School status.

As a potential solution, Matheson looked into the option of making one campus for freshman and sophomores and the other for juniors and seniors.

Of the 28 surveys which have been returned regarding reconfiguration, four people said they were supportive, seven were undecided and 17 were opposed to the idea, Matheson told the board.

Matheson confirmed that if the reorganization plan were to move forward, the district would lose approximately $400,000 in annual revenue because a Necessary Small School is  defined as a 9-12 school. If the district were to move forward with two campuses, WHS would no longer qualify as a NSS. Instead, the campuses would be considered one school with a population of about 500 students, and the district would be paid according to Average Daily Attendance.

Though the reconfiguration plan as it was laid out in December most likely won’t move forward, Matheson said he’ll continue to work on the problem.

Four big questions
Matheson outlined four questions he’ll be investigating in the near future.

First, he’d like to make a decision about the fate of McCloud High School. He’ll  be looking at the logistics and financial impact if the 15 current MHS students were brought to MSHS, where they would generate ADA funding.

“We’d probably end up breaking even,” he said.

He again talked about possible changes to the definition of Necessary Small Schools.

Currently, the state defines a Necessary Small School by its number of students, but this definition may be changed to include proximity to other schools. This could potentially bump both McCloud and Weed high schools out.

Secondly, Matheson said he’d like to investigate solutions for the district’s sports programs. He pointed out that this is an immediate problem; WHS probably won’t have enough players next year to field a varsity football team.

Thirdly, he’d like to see what can be done about the problem of limited elective offerings at MSHS. Next year, it is projected the school will have 30 less students. This would mean that teacher contracts will need to be lessened and layoffs might need to occur. This, in turn, will lead to less elective classes being offered at the campus.

Lastly, Matheson said Superintendent Kermith Walters will soon be holding meetings in both the north and south county to discuss the idea of unification of county school districts. Right now, there are 26 school districts in Siskiyou County.

“This would need to be a community, grassroots effort,” Matheson emphasized. “It’s our role right now to build sustainable high schools that will move through this crisis and emerge strong in the end.”

Matheson restated his opinion that this crisis is an opportunity to make the schools stronger so they’ll do even better when the economy comes back.