California town fears school closing signals its demise

In Knights Landing, the economic downturn started decades ago, when the once-busy port on the Sacramento River began its slide into obscurity.

Today, the Yolo County town's farmworkers and retirees have been hit hard by the bleak economy, and its few businesses struggle to survive.

Residents say one of the few bright spots is Grafton Elementary, the town's only school, where the sound of children's voices can be heard for blocks around.

"It's the heart of the town," said Teresa Guerrero, the school's office coordinator, who echoed the feelings of many of Knights Landings' 1,100 residents.

So, it came as a jolt Feb. 26 when the district school board voted to close Grafton at the end of this school year and bus the children 16 miles to Woodland.

Closing the school will leave the town lonely and silent, Guerrero said.

Woodland Joint Unified School District officials said an unprecedented $7 million budget gap required hard decisions by the board members.

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