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Give Yountville Elementary School a chance

Give Yountville Elementary School a chance

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I am a Yountville resident for 16-plus years, I am also the parent of a second grade grade student at Yountville Elementary School. I also have a 4-year-old; I intend for him to attend YES in the future.

My concerns are many and I am writing to you to think this closure recommendation by the 7-11 committee through thoroughly. I do not want this school to close by any means.

YES is an asset to the town of Yountville. The campus is vast and in sound condition with many positive attributes. There is a newly renovated garden area for teaching students about agriculture and biodynamic practices. There are many other positive attributes, such as a large multi-purpose room, vast fields and multiple play structures for students to play and take part in physical education.

There is a room dedicated to science, there is a central library for student reading and learning. There is also an adequate nurse's office space for students who need care and or medical attention. These positive physical attributes as well as a staff of teachers, faculty, nurse and principal that are all of the highest quality make YES an amazing school and a vital part of the town of Yountville.

A little more about me and my family. My family goes back many generations in the Berryessa and Napa Valleys. My grandfather was born in Napa in 1909 and attended Wooden Valley Elementary school a school that began in 1853 and was recently closed in 2010. I can also go back quite a bit further as my three-times great grandfather was Capt. Granville Perry Swift, California pioneer and captain of the Bear Flag Revolt:  capturing the town of Sonoma, helping to design the Bear Flag that has become the California state flag.

So as you can see I am vested here in the Napa Valley. I am a current vineyard owner in Wooden Valley where my family has farmed and operated a cattle ranch for the better part of 80 years. My family also built and owns a home here in Yountville.

My son has attended YES since Kindergarten. He loves his school and so do we as his parents and family.

When he became old enough for Kindergarten, we researched where to send our son to school. It made perfect sense to send him to YES but we did our due diligence. We went on tours of Alta Heights, Bel Aire and even St. Apollinaris. All fine schools with different things to offer.

We went through Open Enrollment and were placed on waiting lists. We were even deterred by the NVUSD staff from attending YES. This was shocking. We were told that because our son was Type 1 diabetic, we would be better off at a school in Napa.

How could we be told this? Deterred from our neighborhood school because our son was diabetic and would need a nurse and trained staff. That was unacceptable to us as parents.

We met the staff and Principal at YES, they were incredible and welcoming; willing to learn and be trained how to assist our son.

We have had a very positive experience at YES and I am an advocate for my son and his school. I also plan to send my youngest son to YES as well.

However, with the recommendation by the 7-11 committee to close the school, I am reaching out to the school board to not take that recommendation and keep YES open. Closing this school is a last resort and has not been thought through.

How can we as a community in and around Yountville assist in keeping the school open? Myself and many other parents are very interested in doing what we can to facilitate community involvement to add financial assistance to the school. There are ways to get this money. We have heard from the Napa Valley Vintners association, The Gasser Foundation and many local community members, town government officials that are all willing to assist.

I urge you to explore these options for financial assistance. Do not close this school. Once it is closed it will be gone forever.

If YES is closed, I will undoubtedly move my children out of the NVUSD. These will be tax dollars lost for the next 14 years, as I have a 2nd grade student and a 4-year-old. NVUSD will lose out on both of my children. I am not the only parent thinking this, the losses to NVUSD will be substantial. How do you save money by losing students? You don't.

Please give YES a chance, we can work with you to solve this financial crisis.

Jeff Clark


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