BARSTOW — Nearly four years since the Barstow Unified School District Board of Trustees closed Hinkley Elementary School, to the dismay of many parents, a new resolution of closure required a vote as a result of a lawsuit challenging the original.
At its Tuesday meeting, the board approved the resolution to close Hinkley Elementary, a procedure mandated by San Bernardino County Superior Court after Save Our Schools, a group of anonymous Hinkley residents affected by the closure, filed a petition to challenge the board’s 2013 decision.
The original resolution directed the school closure along with the filing of a Notice of Exemption under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Although the Trial Court ruled in favor of BUSD, the Court of Appeal reversed that ruling and led the district to reconsider whether it is indeed CEQA-exempt.
In the resolution approved unanimously Tuesday, the district shows that the redistribution of students from Hinkley Elementary did not exceed a 25 percent increase to its receptor schools’ original student capacities, as required by CEQA guidelines.
Hinkley students were transferred to Lenwood and Skyline North elementaries, as well as Barstow Junior High, which were not negatively affected by the additional enrollment, district officials said.
Before the “ayes” were declared, board member Ben Rosenberg, who also voted to close the school four years ago, was the only one to make a comment.
“It’s kind of a shame that it came down to this,” Rosenberg said, noting that while he appreciated the administration’s help in putting together the documentation for the resolutions, “it doesn’t change what we had to do a few years ago.”
Hinkley Elementary’s closure came at a time the district was faced with declining enrollment and a severe budget shortfall, according to previous Desert Dispatch reports.
At the February 2013 meeting, Rosenberg spoke of his fondness for the school, sympathizing with the sentiments of supporters who were weary of the devastation to their community caused by years of water contamination issues.
To the much smaller and calmer audience four years later, Rosenberg still reiterated his regret: “I’m sorry to see it come to this, but it had to happen.”
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