Cayucos contemplates options for high school students


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As the Cayucos Elementary School District discusses where its high school students will go next, a fact sheet detailing the options was released to the public. But it lacks input from neighboring school districts, and at least one of the data points it contains is inaccurate.

Currently, after Cayucos kids have graduated from eighth grade, they do one of two things: get routed into Coast Union High School in Cambria or apply for an inter-district transfer to Morro Bay High School.

"Every parent and child have their own reasons for that decision but a majority choose Morro Bay High because parents are heading in that direction to work and can drop off their student," Cayucos district Superintendent Scott Smith said.

But parents are concerned that the closure of Diablo Canyon and San Luis Coastal Unified School District's (SLCUSD) current budget cut discussions would make the SLCUSD re-evaluate its current policy on taking inter-district transfers, he said, so they asked Cayucos Elementary to look into all the potential routes for high school.

The district board tasked one member, Ron Wilson, with creating a document that explored three options: keeping things as they are with students going to Coast Union High School, creating a high school of its own and become a K-12 district, or disbanding altogether and unifying with SLCUSD.

While the document looks into options with both Coast Unified School District and SLCUSD—and was posted on the Cayucos district's website—neither of the other districts was consulted. The California Department of Education also was not consulted.

According to the district's posted document, Cayucos Elementary School District spends $17,000 per K-8 student, while Coast Unified spends $16,700 per student and SLCUSD spends $12,000 per student. However, according to the California Department of Education, as of January 2017, Cayucos actually spends about $15,000, while Coast Unified spends $17,000 and SLCUSD $12,000.

The document also states that Cayucos is spending $200,000 per each high school student it sends to Coast Unified, while Cambria is only spending $14,400 per student.

Wilson said he used public documents from each district but chose not to reach out to either Coast Unified or SLCUSD because he didn't want to create the impression that his district was making decisions before the options were presented to the public and the board. Wilson said he arrived at his numbers by taking each district's total interim budget per year and dividing it by the number of students enrolled.

"That's the simplest way. Some people get in the weeds of it, but numbers have been changing as budgets have been updating so I'll be looking at it again," Wilson said. "I do want to make clear that I had two weeks to create this document and it doesn't speak for the entire board or the district. ... It's just information to be discussed at the next meeting."

Coast Unified Superintendent Vicki Schumacher said her district has not conducted any research into the statements made by Wilson in the document he created.

"Information in this attachment represents the opinions of one school board member in Cayucos Elementary School District," Schumacher said.

SLCUSD Assistant Superintendent Ryan Pinkerton said his district had no part in making the document. He said all three districts are considered "basic aid," so they don't receive money from the state, rather they are funded through property taxes assessed on the properties within each district's boundaries.

"One of the questions in our budget discussion will be whether we will continue to allow any students from outside our boundaries to attend our schools, since we do not receive funds for them," Pinkerton said.

Cayucos Elementary School District will hold its next board meeting in September to discuss the information of its three options.


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