Family ties and district finances were again the two primary points of contention at a public hearing Tuesday night over a proposal to have Cayucos high school students assigned to San Luis Coastal Unified School District instead of Coast Unified School District in Cambria.
The County Committee on School District Organization’s meeting was the second of three planned on a petition to formally have Cayucos high school students assigned to San Luis Coastal.
A third meeting is set for Monday in Morro Bay.
Tuesday’s session drew more people from Cayucos than Cambria.
Three Cayucos mothers who launched the petition for “territory transfer” say their issues are family ones: The costs in time, gasoline and worry to travel 14 miles each way on school days, along a two-lane stretch of Highway 1, plus their students’ bonds to sports and other extracurricular programs in Morro Bay.
If Cayucos children were in San Luis Coastal, they might well attend Morro Bay High School, just two miles away.
“Truly, we’re part of the Estero Bay community, not Cambria,” said Zeke Dellamas of Cayucos.
San Luis Coastal Unified officials say most Cayucos high schoolers already attend Morro Bay High School, either through transfer requests, listing false addresses or by moving into the district.
San Luis Coastal Unified Superintendent Eric Prater said the issue should be about fiscal fairness. Property tax money that’s supposed to provide education for Cayucos students stays at Coast Unified, no matter where the teens attend high school.
But fairness isn’t one of the 10 criteria committee members can consider when making their decision, county schools Superintendent Julian Crocker said at the hearing.
One of those criteria is whether the territory transfer would cause substantial negative financial impact.
And indeed it would, said Coast Unified board members. Board President Cindy Fratto said the transfer would cost the Cambria district “$1.2 million every year, 11.4 percent of our total annual budget,” which likely would trigger the layoff of a dozen teachers and closure of the district’s only middle school and Leffingwell High School.
The county committee is expected to make a decision in December about whether to put the proposed change before the voters, probably in 2014.