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Letters to the Editor
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Opposed to new junior high now

Editor, Ceres Courier,

Does Ceres at this time need another junior high school? Does it need to be on east Whitmore Avenue? If your answer if no to either of those questions, read on and plan to attend the CUSD meeting this afternoon.

According to the Courier of Feb. 23, "The economy has tanked. Housing stats are almost non-existent. But the Ceres Unified School District is planning for three new schools." These plans persist in spite of current economic and enrollment realities. The Courier article goes to to say that as of Dec. 31, 2008, student enrollment has flat-lined. This means enrollment is the same as last year and not growing. Nevertheless, CUSD plans keep growing.

According to "Public Notice: Site Suitability Hearing and Notice of Intent To Adopt Mitigated Negative Declaration and Availability of Mitigated Negative Declaration" for the construction and operation of the Whitmore Junior High School, a public hearing to evaluate the site suitability of 3604 E. Whitmore Avenue, Ceres, will occur during the Ceres Unified School District Special Board meeting scheduled for Wednesday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. in the District Office Board Room, 2503 Lawrence Street, Ceres.

If you object to business as usual, attend this special Board meeting today and voice your concerns.

Patricia Cousins,


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The wrong place and wrong time for school

Editor, Ceres Courier,

The Ceres Unified School District and the city Planning Commission have decided that a new junior high school has to be built right in the middle of agriculture. The property owners in the area chosen were not notified or given a chance to give their opinion, (good or bad) on the project. Well I have an opinion and would like to state it.

First of all, I am a longtime resident of Ceres and my family has farmed land in Ceres for over a 100 years. I graduated from Ceres High School a proud member of the class of 1972. I went to college in Illinois, and returned to California to teach and have been teaching for 33 years. At the same time I have been farming the family farm. I say this so I can speak from a point of a teacher and a farmer.

First, I object to the secrecy involved with the land the district wishes to put a junior high on. To my knowledge none of the landowners in the area were given any sort of notice except the article in the Courier and at that time the meeting was over. Even after the article, I talked to several in the area and they knew nothing about it, as they do not read the Courier or do not get it.

Second reason, they have chosen the wrong place. Sam Vaughn and La Rosa Elementary should never have been built where they are for safety reasons. Yet the district wants to build another school next to La Rosa. The FAA has given its okay that it is not in a flight path but I point to the recent plane crashes in the last months as proof that planes do not always stay in the flight landing path they are supposed to be in. In my memory there have been at least two plane crashes in the area. One ran out of gas and landed rather short of the runway and did not cause any fatalities because it landed in a corn field. The other crash landed real close to Sam Vaughn Elementary in the fog and caused fatalities. At the time the houses and school were not there. The land, in question, while not in the official landing path, is in the landing pattern for many flights from the Bay area. One only needs to stay out in the area and watch every day from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and you will see turbo props, like the plane in Buffalo, start their descent some place on the west side of Ceres and descend to a point near Whitmore Avenue and Faith Home Road, then bank starting close to the new property, and bank into the official landing path for the airport.

The place they have chosen is in the wrong place for another reason it is in the middle of agriculture. The La Rosa school complains about the many bee stings from agricultural bees that are put in the fields around the school. The district has exposed many students that are highly allergic to bees. The many farms in the area will be using pesticide and creating dust in normal agriculture practices. Health wise, this may cause many students to have severe health reactions to the air.

Third reason is wrong time. As other school districts are tightening their belts and laying off staff Ceres wants to build another school and may not be able to pay for staff. Yes, the state gives money to open new schools, but that money only lasts for a time and then the district has to pay for everything. The district has stated the student enrollment has flat-lined, which means enrollment is the same as last year and not growing. Which translates into no more money from the state. Actually the district will be getting less money, as the state has reduced the amount it pays local communities for schools. The district will not be able to pay for new staff at the new site. Most districts in the area are closing schools or combining schools as enrollment has declined from last year.

I would think there would be a wiser use of the money.

Norm Caulkins,


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Letters to the editor will be considered for publication but must be signed with the author's name, address and telephone number. Letters should contain 250 words or less and be void of libelous statements. Letters should be sent to: The Ceres Courier, P.O. Box 7, Ceres, CA 95307. Letters may also be emailed to