Part political organizing, part reunion, about 80 people gathered Wednesday evening in Sebastopol; vowing to block the planned consolidation of two local high schools.
Greg Jacobs, a 1966 graduate of Analy High, says the controversy isn't a surprise. "This issue of whether or not El Molino could stand on its own financially has been around for a long time, probably since my daughters graduated," he said.
He blames school board bungling. "If you're going to get to where we are now, which is the community is divided, something went wrong in the process," he said.
A proposed new name has raised ire. Many, like Mark Quam, a 1972 Analy graduate, laments the loss of storied names.
"To just wipe it out and call it something generic is terrible," he said.
Lena Ghirardelli, a 1983 grad, said she's closely followed the issues for years. "The district has been financially mismanaged for many years, so this was a long time coming. Instead of dealing with issues that could have reduced their costs, they kept voting for things to spend more money," she said.
There's also a flip side. According the county office of education, enrollment has dropped 18 percent since 2009. With funding based on attendance, that's a problem. Jamie Hansen, a spokesperson for the county office, says falling enrollment is common throughout the county. She said the high cost of living and natural disasters are driving young families out.
That's not an argument Juli Misbach, class of '83 finds faulty.
"It's too expensive to live here for the younger population that's going to be birthing people," she said.
The office, which oversees the district, questioned in January if it would run out of cash by 2024. A recall effort against three school board members is underway.