Most parents send their kids to the closest possible school to their residence. But what happens when the closest school is outside of the district? Eight petitioners, living just off of Crazy Horse Canyon Road, want the Monterey County Office of Education to take a good look at that very question, signing onto a transfer of territory proposal to move 13 parcels of land from North Monterey County Unified School District to Lagunita Elementary School District – a one-schoolhouse K-8 district.
“The families living on those properties see [Lagunita] as their neighborhood school,” says the school’s principal and superintendent, Daniel Stonebloom. Approval of the transfer would be a way to cement Lagunita Elementary as part of their community. The school is less than two miles away from the neighborhood. However, the western properties are within NMCUSD’s territory – its closest school is more than seven miles away.
It’s a small number of parcels, but it could affect both districts in a big way. Kari Yeater says the biggest concern for NMCUSD would be the tax revenue lost from those properties. In the future, that would affect everything from floating bond measures to loss of developer fees and more. “It redistributes the cost to the rest of the community,” says Yeater.
The “small” territory transfer is also made up of homes that typically sell from the $850,000 range and up into the millions.
By the district’s initial projections, over 30 years, NMCUSD could lose over $4.5 million.
Catalina Perez, a junior at North Monterey County High, NMCUSD’s high school, argues that her district is a community in itself and it affects her too. She says this proposal will widen what she feels is a separation that already exists between the towns and neighborhoods that make up the district, mostly Prunedale, Moss Landing and Castroville.
She explains that school is one of the few places where the majority of white kids living in Prunedale (where the proposed territory transfers are located) and the majority of Latino kids of Castroville interact.
“I went to elementary and even middle school with a lot of kids from Prunedale. Our schools are our community,” she says. “Growing up in Castroville, kids are mostly Latino and have similar backgrounds. Having diversity gets us out of our bubbles and makes us look at the world differently.”
Public hearings for the proposed territory transfer take place Sept. 17 at the two schools: 3:30pm at Lagunita Elementary School; 6:30pm at Prunedale Elementary School. After the hearings, MCOE will have 120 days to approve or deny the petition.
Editor's Note: The print version of this story incorrectly stated that there would be one hearing on Sept. 17 at the Monterey County Office of Education. The story has also been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Catalina Perez's last name.