School District Consolidation FAQ

School District Consolidation Frequently Asked Questions

Santa Rosa City Schools is considering moving forward on the idea of consolidating with 8 other school districts including Kenwood School District. As this process is confusing, we wanted to help Kenwood School District residents to understand what this would mean for Kenwood School District and its students.

  1. What is “school district consolidation”? School district consolidation involves merging two or more school districts into a single, unified district. Currently Santa Rosa City Schools is investigating the process to consolidate 9 elementary school districts into in New Big District. These districts include, Kenwood, Wright, Rincon Valley, Bennett Valley, Piner Olivet, Bellevue, Mark West, Roseland, and Santa Rosa.
  1. How would consolidation affect students? The impact on students can vary. Santa Rosa City Schools (SRCS) feels that consolidation may lead to increased resources and expanded academic opportunities. Kenwood School District feels that there will be lost resources for its students, increased class size, and the loss of local decision making.
  1. Is it true that the new New Big District would save up to $24 million? According to the study completed by Christie White Inc., and commissioned by the Sonoma County Office of Education (see report here), the district COULD save up to $24 million dollars after many years. Christie White based this prediction on the budget of a similar sized district in another part of California. This district has 16 less schools than the New Big District would have. Most of the savings would happen after the new New Big District closed the 16 extra schools.
  1. How would consolidation help the Kenwood School District? It quite likely will not be helpful to the Kenwood School District or to other districts. Consolidation would dissolve the Kenwood School Board and all other school district boards. All future decisions would be made by a new School Board that would be elected by the residents of the new New Big District.

  2. If the new New Big District closed schools, would Kenwood School be affected? Most certainly Kenwood School would be one of the first schools to be considered for closure. It would be cheaper for the New Big District to bus students from Kenwood to another school in Rincon Valley than to keep the school open. This is how the New Big District would begin to realize a savings. Many other schools would also be closed.
  1. Currently Kenwood School has many valuable enrichments for my children. Would these enrichment programs continue? Unfortunately, Kenwood School students would lose most of their enrichments such as STEAM, Art, Music, and Garden. These enrichments are paid for with donations from the Kenwood Education Foundation. This foundation would no longer be able to support the Kenwood School District if it was consolidated into the new New Big District. Kenwood School would also loose the small class sizes, individualized attention for each student and the close community feel.
  1. Do residents have a say in the decision? Attending School Board Meetings at both Kenwood as well as Santa Rosa City Schools will allow you to voice your opinion to both school boards. If both county and state committees agree to move forward with consolidation, the voters of Kenwood would be given a chance to opt out of the consolidation.

  2. What benefits will consolidation bring to students? SRCS feels that by consolidating 9 districts into 1 New Big District, money will be saved. Christie White has concluded (see report here) that the State of California would save $21 million dollars through this consolidation process because of various revenue structures. Unfortunately, that is $21 million dollars that the students of Sonoma County will no longer have access to. In addition, Christie White acknowledged that based on comparisons to a similar sized district in the state of California, the new New Big District COULD save as much as $24 million through staffing cuts and multiple school closures.
  1. How would the loss of $21 million dollars affect the Kenwood students? Currently, Kenwood School receives about $24,000 per pupil each year through district revenue (property taxes). If consolation were to happen, the revenue per pupil would drop to around $15,000 each. The $9,000 loss per pupil would result in the loss to such programs as instructional aides, STEAM, Art, Band, Music, and Garden.
  1. If Sonoma County students will be losing $21 million dollars, why would SRCS want to consolidate? According to the SRCS School Board, they feel that by creating a New Big District with one set of state adopted curriculum for all of the students, there will be more articulation when students are promoted from 6th grade to 7th grade. They have not been able to explain why they feel the loss of $21 million dollars is beneficial.
  1. When would the consolidation happen? Timelines for consolidation can vary based on the specific circumstances and decisions of the involved districts ( It's essential to stay updated through official announcements, community meetings, and school board communications for accurate information on the consolidation schedule. If SRCS moves forward with a petition and the state, county committees agree that all criteria have been met and that consolidation is a viable option, it is estimated that the consolidation process would take up to 5 or more years from beginning to end. You can stay informed through official communications from Kenwood School District, attend community School Board meetings, participate in Coffee with the Principal, and regularly check the district's website for updates.

Please contact Kenwood School Board President, Cheryl Ghisla for more questions or concerns;