Parents, teachers and students plead to Novato Unified to keep schools from closing

A recommendation on Wednesday will likely be determined to make its way to the Novato Unified School Board; the recommendation will be to choose one of two elementary schools to close down.

Before the first bell Tuesday morning, students, teachers and parents lined up along the sidewalk at Lu Sutton Elementary and Rancho Elementary. They marched, chanting, to Novato Unified's headquarters pleading to keep their respective schools from closing.

"At some point, we might be the same community, so we want to show each other the love," said Erin Compton, a parent with children attending Lu Sutton Elementary.

"We are here to support our school and avoid closure," said Debra Robles, a teacher at Rancho Elementary.

A special 7-11 committee is now tasked with recommending one school to the district for closure. The Novato School Board says falling enrollment is causing it to look at how to spend money more efficiently. 

Last week during its meeting, the special committee created a list of criteria to determine its final decision; part of that criteria includes the rate of English learner enrollment and ethnicity enrollment. 

"We have people from 30 different countries, several different languages," said Marisol Nita, a parent from Racho Elementary.

"This is an incredible school," said Tom Skylar, a parent from Lu Sutton Elementary. "Diverse. Supports all backgrounds of kids.

Parents and teachers say if the committee used the same criteria before narrowing it down to two schools, their schools would not be finalists. They argue their level of diversity, English learning students are top of the district.

"I hope the committee and school board reads our letters, look at the facts, look at the data," said Nita, hoping to keep her school intact. "We can ensure you, you won't regret this."

The 7-11 committee will meet again Wednesday night. It's likely they will have a final decision to recommend to the board by the end of the meeting.