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LA Unifed wooing parents of soon-to-close valley private school

LA School Report | January 22, 2016

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pinecrestIn its latest effort to offset declining enrollment, LA Unified is wooing parents of children attending a private school in Woodland Hills that is shutting down after this academic year.

The operators of Pinecrest Schools have notified parents that they intend to close the group’s last five campuses, a decision that creates a chance for LA Unified to add students from the Woodland Hills campus to some of its nearby public schools in the west valley.

Already, the district has distributed flyers to Pinecrest families, announcing that a “recruitment meeting” is scheduled for Monday evening at LA Unified’s Local District Northwest office in Lake Balboa to present parents with choices in LA Unified.

“We hope to have parents contact us,” said the local superindent for the area, Vivian Ekchian. “We want to tell them there is a zone of opportunity here for them.”

The Pinecrest school in Woodland Hills serves about 300 children in kindergarten through 8th grade. It is part of a family-owned chained that has been open for 65 years. President and CEO Jeri Dye Lynch told parents of of children at the remaining five schools that the company has “exhausted both our emotional and financial reserves trying to maintain our school business,” according to the LA Daily News.

The other campuses are beyond LA Unified’s reach, in Thousand Oaks, Moorpark, Simi Valley and Santa Clarita.

Ekchian said the district would do whatever possible to move an entire grade together, if parents express a desire to keep the children together.She also said LA Unified has no interest in taking over the Woodland Hills Pinecrest campus, saying most private schools are not compliant with public school requirements.

“For us,” she said, “this is a beautiful opportunity to share our programs with parents,” she said. “We will make every effort to make a comfortable transition.”

It remained unclear whether any charter groups had contacted Pinecrest to express interest in the students or any of the buildings. Dye was unavailable, and a spokesman for the California Charter Schools Association said he did not know.


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