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SCHOOL NEWS: Mt. Diablo chief out; 4 West Contra Costa schools to close

By Ann Tatko-Peterson
Thursday, February 12th, 2009 at 12:16 pm in Schools.

schoolBig news on the school fronts today. Over in Mt. Diablo, the contentious tenure of superintendent Gary McHenry came to an end after nine years when he decided to resign earlier this week. Reaction to his departure is mixed, though his decision to walk away is not entirely surprising. McHenry has shouldered the blame for deep financial troubles within the district, as well as dissatisfaction within the ranks of the teachers. A new makeup on the board has rendered his decision making almost obsolete. As recently as last month, McHenry’s decision to lay off six vice principals was overturned by the school board in favor of letting district office administrators go instead. Dick Nicoll will serve as interim superintendent until a replacement for McHenry can be found.

Meanwhile, West Contra Costa’s school board voted Wednesday night to close four schools, despite protests from an audience of 1,000 concerned parents and students. The four schools closing next year are Lake Elementary in San Pablo, Castro Elementary in El Cerrito, Adams Middle in unincorporated Richmond and El Sobrante Elementary in El Sobrante. The board elected not to close Shannon Elementary in Pinole until the 2010-2011 school year, in hopes that it can find a way to prevent the closure. For other changes affecting the district, read Kimberly S. Wetzel’s story in the Times.

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