99 Words, Almost

School Mural

photos by Denise Minor

Editor’s note —

ChicoSol Adviser Denise Minor writes the second story in our Highway 99 series on Knights Landing, a northern outpost of Yolo County, on the Sacramento River. Knights Landing was an ancient gathering place for Native Americans and later a steamboat landing. Minor describes the town, about 10 miles from Highway 99 as the crow flies, on a morning in 2009.

by Denise Minor

School’s Out

The playground equipment is covered with a fine coat of dust at Grafton Elementary School in Knights Landing. A few plastic grocery bags are caught in the shrubbery. In front of the mural of white and Hispanic farmers shaking hands are empty parking places reserved for “Principal” and “Secretary.” At picnic tables, two older men wearing cowboy hats sit in the shade of large trees and chat in Spanish.

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Vibrant School District Starved by State

By Leslie Layton

Some California school districts have gone broke because of gross mismanagement. Some have gone broke on fraud and corruption. The Chico Unified School District has gone broke on good intentions and a crashing state economy.

You could argue that it went broke by providing what parents in this college town wanted, even when the district could no longer afford those amenities. It offered small primary school classes and high school electives like French IV and ran tiny schools in the nearby communities of Cohasset and Forest Ranch.

You could argue that it went broke giving raises to teachers after the union fought bitterly for what it considered a fair collective bargaining agreement in 2006. Or that it went broke because a former superintendent foolishly gambled on an effort to boost the attendance rate and overestimated income by $1.1 million for a two-year period.

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