FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
Pictured are, from left to right, Sullivan Middle School eighth-graders Brandon Bruno, Shelby Durden, Larry Naples, Eric Martinez, "Save Sullivan" organizers Apu Gupta and LeRoy Purvis, and Sullivan students Hannah Purvis, Rachel Syrett, Ariana Ponce, Cassidy Harshman and Bryan Estrera. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

Pictured are, from left to right, Sullivan Middle School eighth-graders Brandon Bruno, Shelby Durden, Larry Naples, Eric Martinez, "Save Sullivan" organizers Apu Gupta and LeRoy Purvis, and Sullivan students Hannah Purvis, Rachel Syrett, Ariana Ponce, Cassidy Harshman and Bryan Estrera. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

Education

Group rallies to save Sullivan from closure

By From page A1 | May 09, 2012

FAIRFIELD — Parents, students and teachers are organizing a fight against a school board vote to close Sullivan Middle School, calling it another attack on the city’s poorest students and a cut that can be avoided.

“We’re just really frustrated,” said LeRoy Purvis, the parent of a Sullivan graduate, current student and an incoming student.

This week, “Save Sullivan” began a petition drive that as of Tuesday afternoon had 380 signatures. People signing the petition left notes as well.

“I am signing because this is my school,” wrote Shelby Durden. “And there is a lot of potential to this school. Please spare my middle school.”

“Although I am a graduating eighth-grader and this closure wouldn’t affect my high school years, I am signing this petition to stand up for the future of Sullivan,” wrote Angela Balolong. “Sullivan has been a home to a very large number of students and the decision of its closure and the mere thought that there will never be another student to experience the amazing Celtic years is heartbreaking.”

“I agree with the petition. It would be devastating to students to have to go to Grange and be involved with such large classes,” wrote Deanna Siefke.

The petition lists several concerns. One of them is that the closure of Sullivan will move most of its students to Grange Middle School, creating a population of at least 1,500 students on one campus and affecting some of the district’s poorest students. Eighty percent of Sullivan students and 63 percent of Grange students are identified as socioeconomically disadvantaged, according to district figures.

By contrast, the percentage of enrollment identified as socioeconomically disadvantaged is 38.2 percent at K-8 B. Gale Wilson School, 29.3 percent at Green Valley Middle and 60.9 percent at Crystal Middle School.

“It’s easier to make these changes to those kinds of people because they don’t fight back,” said Purvis, who said poorer residents have other things to worry about. “Whether that’s intended or not I have no idea. But, at least, it looks really bad.”

Sullivan and Armijo High graduate Dwight Lundy, who now works at a Sullivan after-school program, has visited the school over the past weeks and says the students are blaming themselves, believing they were singled out because of their background or low test scores.

“We were prepping them, telling them they need to study so they can show the district they made a mistake by shutting them down,” Lundy said.

Teacher Paula Vargas said closing Sullivan will take a “safe haven” away from children who need it most. The longer walk to Grange, she said, will be another challenge to keep the students attending schools regularly.

“The kids are crying out, they want their school saved,” Vargas said. “We need to send that message.”

The school board in February voted to cut $1.2 million by closing an elementary and middle school as part of $6.5 million in cuts needed to close next year’s deficit. The board avoided closing an elementary school by using givebacks offered by district managers and further cutting the adult education budget.

That covered $400,000, the savings of closing an elementary school. The school board then went forward with closing Sullivan, which saves $800,000.

Purvis, however, has come up with his own solution based on district figures and proposals. His proposal uses the district’s approved proposal to save an elementary school ($400,000) and adds the teacher union’s earlier proposal to offer concessions equal to 66 percent of the cost of running the two schools, or $744,000.

It calls for delaying the opening date of the district’s new Public Safety Academy for one year and waiting for results of the November tax initiatives, which could bring in funding for local schools.

Purvis, who is organizing Save Sullivan, said he is encouraging supporters to rally at the board meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at 2490 Hilborn Road.

Reach David DeBolt at 427-6935 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/daviddebolt. 

David DeBolt

David DeBolt

A native of Vacaville, DeBolt was a newspaperman in Palo Alto before coming home to work at the DR in June 2011. He covers education, county government and politics. His friends call him "Scoop."
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Discussion | 13 comments

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  • WoodyMay 08, 2012 - 7:15 pm

    Good luck with that. The teachers association rank and file hasn't voted on that proposal you are referring to, and their concessions probably wouldn't keep Sullivan open. Now your idea of pushing back that elitist public service academy, that's a good idea.

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  • SeaBreezeMay 08, 2012 - 8:42 pm

    Where do I sign :)

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  • Former FF residentMay 08, 2012 - 10:18 pm

    Sullivan always sucked.... no great loss! GO GRIZZLIES!

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  • wendy purvisMay 09, 2012 - 6:52 am

    Please go to savesullivan.org if you would like to sign our online petition.

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  • LeRoy & Nancy PurvisMay 09, 2012 - 7:22 am

    We support the students & Parents of sullivan Middle school

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  • LeRoy PurvisMay 09, 2012 - 7:39 am

    Please come to the board meeting Thursday night at 6pm to show your support. If you would like to sign our petition, go to http://savesullivan.org

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  • wendy purvisMay 09, 2012 - 7:44 am

    Please sign our online petition, savesullivan.org and come to the board meeting, Thursday night at 6pm to show support.

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  • TomMay 09, 2012 - 8:54 am

    My children graduated from Sullivan Middle School. We were very happy that there was a good neighborhood school for both of them to attend. I am a firm believer in neighbothood schools. Through all of FSUSD' s budget woes I have heard very little about cutting costs at the district office level. It seems like district adminstrators loose touch as to why they have jobs in the first place. The level of compensation for these people is unwarrented while they are cutting the needs of students to he bone. The whole state of California has become a welfare system for high salaried administrators. No wonder people are so hesitant against voting for any tax increases.

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  • MichelleMay 09, 2012 - 9:21 am

    When I went to Grange in the early 90's, we were considered the "disadvantaged" school. Sullivan had GATE and I know Sullivan students thought Grange was ghetto, poor and a inferior school. It is sad to see a school being closed in Fairfield, especially one of that size. Having 1,500 students at Grange would be a disaster. That campus is not cutout to house that many students.

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  • Roger CaudillMay 09, 2012 - 4:22 pm

    Well i am reading this all the way in nebraska and all i have to say is; fsusd what are you thinking. especially how that school is zoned. I used to attend sullivan in 89-91. That school had one of the best programs in the entire district. Closing it would definately be a mistake.

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  • SeaBreezeMay 10, 2012 - 3:15 am

    @Former FF resident......This doesn't just affect Sullivan it will have a disaster effect on Grange and all of Fairfield/Suisun.. For many years Fairfield/Suisun has not put our children first..People wonder why,more and more our town is called the New Richmond In my humble opinion this is one of many reasons. How does closing schools benefit the students? I can't answer that but I can tell you how not opening the district’s new Public Safety Academy can benefit students.Use the money to keep Sullivan open. Move the superintendent’s office to Grange I have a RV I will give to her for her office. It is very nice. I will give it to her for free if she walks from Sullivan to Grange every school day.A good leader leads by example. ** If Sullivan does close Here is idea how about using the money from NOT opening The district’s new Public Safety Academy for . busing !!

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  • DianeMay 10, 2012 - 4:03 pm

    "I will give it to her for free if she walks from Sullivan to Grange every school day.A good leader leads by example." This is a good point. Every trustee that rubberstamped Sullivan's closure should try walking from say, the far northern end of Marigold to Grange, in a heat wave, twice a day, EVERY day. Holding a 15 lb. book bag, of course.

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  • wendy purvisMay 10, 2012 - 6:28 am

    Please come to the board meeting tonight at 6pm, where we will be asking some tough questions.

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