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By Allison Jarrell
At the July 22 meeting of the Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees, board members discussed eliminating Wood Canyon Elementary School as an option for the expansion of an Aliso Viejo charter school, Community Roots Academy. The district is now focusing on potential charter sites at elementary schools in San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Niguel.
Community Roots Academy, a kindergarten through eighth-grade charter school, currently sits on the same campus as Wood Canyon Elementary in Aliso Viejo. In the spring, Community Roots appealed to the district to find more space for its students, and the board initially considered closing Wood Canyon to allow for the expansion.
That option was met with much resistance from parents in the community, and, due to concerns including the area’s growing population of young students, the trustees agreed unanimously on July 22 to take Wood Canyon off the table.
“We are going to have a school of choice nightmare on our hands,” Trustee Gila Jones said. “I don’t want to be sitting here listening to parents, mad because they can’t send their kids to an Aliso Viejo school.”
Other charter site options discussed at the meeting included R.H. Dana Elementary School in Dana Point, Del Obispo Elementary School in San Juan Capistrano and Crown Valley Elementary in Laguna Niguel. R.H. Dana was removed from consideration as the other two sites were identified as a better fit.
District staff said part of the analysis in choosing a charter school site includes looking at surrounding school enrollment numbers. If Del Obispo Elementary was selected for closure, staff said it would be important to give students the option to move to a nearby school with enough capacity to handle the influx, citing R.H. Dana as an example.
The board ultimately directed staff to further examine the options of closing Del Obispo Elementary or Crown Valley Elementary.
The charter school discussion will continue at a future CUSD meeting. The topic is not on the Aug. 12 agenda.