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MDUSD school closure committee looks at options

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 at 6:37 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

By Theresa Harrington

The Mt. Diablo district school closure committee has come up with 10 scenarios for closing schools in the district.

It is also evaluating another option created by the Superintendents’ Council, before deciding on two options to recommend to the board later this month.

Here are the options under consideration. Schools to close are in capital letters. Schools students would be moved to are in parentheses.

1 – 1: GLENBROOK (to El Dorado, Oak Grove, Valley View);
SILVERWOOD (to Ayers, Mountain View, Highlands);
HOLBROOK (to Wren, Sun Terrace, Monte Gardens, Westwood);
Savings: $1,504,453

1 – 2: SILVERWOOD (see above);
HOLBROOK (see above);
EL MONTE (to Wren, Westwood, Woodside);
GREGORY GARDENS (to Hidden Valley, Fair Oaks, Valhalla);
Savings: $1,738,320

2- 1: GLENBROOK (to El Dorado, Oak Grove, Valley View);
WREN AVENUE (to El Monte, Holbrook, Monte Gardens, Westwood);
SILVERWOOD (to Ayers, Mountain View, Highlands);
Savings: $1,533,504

2- 2: WREN AVENUE (see 2-1 above);
SHORE ACRES (to Rio Vista, Bel Air and possibly Delta View);
SILVERWOOD (see 2-1 above);
GREGORY GARDENS (to Sequoia Elem, which becomes partial neighborhood school like Monte Gardens; Hidden Valley, Valhalla);
Savings: $1,819,386

3-1: SEQUOIA ELEM. (to home schools);
SEQUOIA MIDDLE SCHOOL (to home schools);
WREN AVENUE (to El Monte, Holbrook, Monte Gardens, Westwood);
Savings: $1,607,769

3- 2: FAIR OAKS (to Bancroft, Cambridge, Strandwood);
SHORE ACRES (to Bel Air, Delta View, Riverview and Rio Vista, which all become K-8);
OAK GROVE (to Foothill, El Dorado, Pleasant Hill and other surrounding if necessary);
Savings: $1,543,916

4- 1: SEQUOIA ELEM. (to home schools);
AYERS ELEM. (to Silverwood, Highlands, Mountain View);
MONTE GARDENS (to home schools, residents to Westwood, Wren);
FAIR OAKS (to Pleasant Hill Elem., Gregory Gardens, Bancroft):
Savings: $,685,242

4- 2: SEQUOIA ELEM. (to home schools);
SEQUOIA MIDDLE (to home schools);
MONTE GARDENS ELEM. (to home schools, residents to Westwood, Wren Ave.);
Savings: $1,563,095

5- 1: WREN AVENUE (to El Monte, Westwood);
SILVERWOOD ELEM. (to Ayers, Highlands);
GREGORY GARDENS ELEM. (to Valhalla, Strandwood);
BANCROFT (to Fair Oaks, Walnut Acres, Woodside, Valle Verde);
HOLBROOK (to Sun Terrace);
RIO VISTA (to Shore Acres, Bel Air);
Savings: $2,761,978

5- 2: GLENBROOK MIDDLE (to Oak Grove, El Dorado);
plus any two elementary schools from scenario 5-1;
Savings: $1,470,929 – $1,615,613, depending on which elementary schools are chosen

Superintendent’s Council recommendation:
OAK GROVE (to 6-12 campus at Ygnacio Valley HS);
GLENBROOK (to 6-12 campus at Mt. Diablo HS);
Convert Riverview Middle School to 6-12 campus;
TWO ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS (TO BE DETERMINED);
Savings: approximately $1.5 million

One member of the committee said there could be trouble with competing gangs being placed on the same high school campus. An Ygnacio Valley HS graduate said he thought the campus is set up well to accommodate a middle school separate from the high school.

A Sequoia Elementary School teacher said she didn’t think all of the “choice” schools should be closed (Sequoia Elementary, Sequoia Middle School and Monte Gardens Elementary). She also said it didn’t seem fair to convert some schools to 6-12, while leaving others 9-12 high schools.

Some committee members who are mothers said they didn’t think parents would want to put sixth-graders on a high school campus.

Another committee member said the district could close more than two elementary schools to save even more. Chief Financial Officer Bryan Richards said the $1.5 million savings is a “floor” target.

“To be perfectly frank, the numbers out of the state do not look good right now,” he said. “If we cut more (schools), it’s less that we’ll have to cut from somewhere else.”

Rose Lock, assistant superintendent for Student Achievement and School Support, said creating a 6-12 campus at Riverview Middle School in Bay Point might entice students to stay, she said.

“We don’t want to be losing kids,” Lock said. “Pittsburg (school district) just opened a brand new high school. A lot of our kids in Bay Point are not going to our schools. So, this could be an opportunity to build up a state-of-the-art secondary school. It wasn’t intended to usurp your authority on this committee.”

Hercules Middle and High School in the West Contra Costa school district is a good example of a 6-12 campus, she said. Such a configuration could allow some middle school students to take advanced courses at the high school, she added.

Richards said the district could save money on busing by serving students in Bay Point instead of transporting them to Concord.

“Transportation infringes mightily on the budget,” he said.

Another option, Richards said, would be to turn Riverview into a high school and turn Rio Vista Elementary into a middle school. If necessary, he said sixth-graders could be returned to elementary schools in Bay Point.

Bay Point and the Meadow Homes Elementary area of Concord are the areas of the district that are growing, he said.

A consultant said the committee could look at a variety of campus configurations, including: K-5, K-6, 6-8, 7-8, 6-12 and 9-12.

“There’s no research to support any configuration as best,” Lock said.

Much of the data the committee examined is at http://www.mdusd.org/Community/Pages/scac.aspx. But one very important piece of information is missing: ratings of each school in the district based on the criteria.

According to the Nov. 8 agenda, the committee rated each school. The minutes show the methodology used, but don’t reveal the ratings.

At the Nov. 10 Parent Advisory Committee meeting, Lock said the School Closure Committee had rated each school on a rubric, from 1 to 20. The lowest rated schools were those most likely to close, she said.

During the Monday school closure committee meeting, Lock said the group’s work has been “open and transparent.” But, its failure to post the school ratings online leaves one element of the process shrouded in secrecy.

Supposedly, the committee members used their campus ratings to come up with their school closure scenarios. Without being able to see these ratings, the public has no way of knowing what the scenarios were based on.

The committee may vote on its final recommendations on Monday, Dec. 13. At that time, estimates of how much different scenarios would cost will be presented, since some plans would require the addition of classrooms at campuses to accommodate more students.

The committee will present its recommendations to the board during a study session that hasn’t yet been scheduled.

“We’re not going to rush you into making a decision,” Lock told the commitee. “We have two more meetings scheduled.”

Trustees can choose from the recommendations or create their own list of schools to close.

Do you believe the district should release the complete list of school ratings for each of the criteria evaluated?

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  • Joe Smith

    Just like with the Measure C poll, the board will try to keep this underwraps as long as they can. Interesting that they would have a scenario that closes both Monte Gardens and Sequioa Elementary. Just a red herring to thwart those that would say the district is going to hammer the lower performing schools?

  • jnew

    Sequoia Elementary to home schools huh? What happens when your “home school” is also on the list??

  • Frustrated teacher

    If elementary schools are combined and the number of students is over 700, will the district hire VPs?

  • DAS

    “One member of the committee said there could be trouble with competing gangs being placed on the same high school campus.”

    I was shocked to read this. There are gangs in our local high schools? Which schools?

  • Lisa C

    It is a shame to think about closing down Sequoia elementary and/or Monte Gardens elementary schools that differentiate themselves from other schools. The school district has a diverse population and many parents want options to find a school that is best suited to their children’s education experience base on their belief. Sequoia and Monte Gardens gives them parents that hope. Without these two schools, the education quality and experience of the district will suffer even more.

  • naive

    Interesting the only posts concern the “higher performing” schools – Sequoia and Monte Gardens. Don’t worry your kids will go to a nice safe home school and won’t have to deal with the general population or god forbid, kids from Concord.

  • Another MDUSD parent

    To Naive (12:16) — I am not sure I understand your comment? Monte Gardens *is* located in Concord and a majority of kids are from Concord. Sequoia Middle has lots of kids (somewhere close to half?) who are from Concord. So what was meant by the comment about the potential to attend “school with kids from Concord” when many, many students at these schools *are* from Concord?

  • Stacey

    Has anyone heard which options were recommended on Monday’s meeting?

  • Joe Smith

    I find it odd and interesting that the agenda and meeting minutes from Monday’s meeting have not been posted on the MDUSD website.

  • tharrington

    I just spoke to Bryan Richards, who told me there will be a committee meeting on Monday, Dec. 13. He said Rose Lock does the minutes. I’ve also left a message for Lock, asking about the minutes. Here’s a link to the Nov. 29 minutes, which shed more light on the discussion of scenarios: http://www.mdusd.org/Community/Documents/scac/minutes/112910.pdf.
    If a Sequoia student’s home school is also closed, that student would go wherever all the other students in the home school move.
    Trustees haven’t yet discussed whether they would hire new vps for schools over 700 students. It would reduce the total savings. But as long as they reach their $1.5 million target, they may be willing to add administrators.
    Gangs were discussed in relation to Ygnacio Valley and Mt. Diablo high schools and the consolidation of Riverview as a 6-12 school.
    It is true that many Concord students attend Sequoia elementary and middle schools.

  • Sarah

    It is so sad that school closures come before pay reductuion of higher ups, people in office, or before putting money into cutting the perfectly healthy trees (on Sundays) to put up a new solar parking lot on Monte Creste/Oak Park Blvd, (Where the Mt.Diablo offices are). What did that cost?
    The children are our future and you are telling them, that you don’t care where they go, or how many are in thier class. Overcrowding allows for children to fall between the cracks, and get into more trouble at school, as a teacher can only do so much.
    Yes, Sequioa does have students attending from Concord. It is a great school, with a great diverse of population. The parents that send thier children there, drive them there/carpool or walk them to school, just like any other school.
    With the overcrowding in schools already, it would be a shame to shut down any of these schools. Maybe those with the powers that be, should try to teach a class of the size they are talking about if the school closures go forth, prior to closing the schools.

  • Derek

    I can’t believe shutting down schools is even being considered. It will end up costing more to physically make those schools “cold and dark.” I guarantee there are better ways to cut costs. I’ve been to evening soccer games behind schools where the AC is still running! I’ve seen sprinklers going when it’s raining. Lights are on when the classrooms are empty. I’m sure the list goes on and on. Closing schools will NOT save money.

  • Karen

    Delta View Elementary currently has 770 students, and does not have a VP. I imagine they would not hire VP’s for other schools that exceed 700 in the future.

  • tharrington

    Gary Eberhart told me the school closure study session is tentatively scheduled at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 19, but the location hasn’t been finalized.

  • Sassy

    DO NOT CLOSE THE TOP RATED SCHOOLS IN THE DISTRICT! Bring more students to these high achieving schools!! I chose the MDUSD over private schools … I WILL choose to leave the district if our top rated schools are closed!

  • student of sequoia

    i is very said.
    my school is sequoia middle i currently go there. my home school is a teribe school and very dangerous because there are many gang kid i went to sequoia elementary and love it also loved the eahers. im not one of the smart kids but once i got to sequoia middle i thought i woul actually have a chance to learn easly not tha but also there will be many of us friends sepperating and people will have truble getting to school, carpooling s big at sequoia and if kids go to different schools that would be very haard.