Part of the Bay Area News Group

Mt. Diablo district superintendent’s latest school closure presentation

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 at 1:41 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington.

Since the Mt. Diablo school district still hasn’t posted Superintendent Steven Lawrence’s PowerPoint presentation from Tuesday night online, I’ll recap it here for you [bracketed notes were added by me]:

“Items to be addressed:
– Where would Westwood students go?
– Where would the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Significantly Handicapped programs at Westwood be housed?
– Where would the Silverwood program for students with Autism be housed?
– What are our costs for the Necessary Small High Schools (NSHS)?
– Is there a way to consolidate the NHSH in order to better meet student needs and save money?
– Can we close Willow Creek and sell the property to help with the $1.5 million ongoing reduction to the general fund?

WHERE WOULD WESTWOOD STUDENTS GO?
Currently, there are 397 students at Westwood.
219 live in the Westwood attendance area.
21 students attend the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program (none of these students live in the Westwood attendance area and nine live out of district)
17 students attend the Severely Handicapped (SH) program (one student lives in the attendance area)

[RECOMMENDATION IF WESTWOOD IS CLOSED]:
– Move the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and SH programs to Wren Avenue Elementary School, which is 1.5 miles from El Dorado MS and Concord HS
– The remainder of the current students could either attend Mountain View, return to their home school, or for the portion of the Westwood attendance area west of Concord HS and north of Concord Boulevard, they could attend Monte Gardens
– The new Mountain View attendance area would have 501 elementary students in it. Therefore, the students currently attending Westwood and Mountain View could remain, but new transfer students would not be accepted. If every student went from Westwood to Mountain View, the school would have 772 next year and decrease in enrollment over the next several years. (Powerpoint includes map of Westwood Elementary School Planning Areas.)

CONCERNS:
– Traffic: Spoke with Concord City Manager Dan Keen about traffic concerns and he feels that traffic issues can be mitigated. Once a decision is made we can sit down with the Concord city team and discuss start and end times for Concord HS and El Dorado MS. Generally, the start time is a bigger concern because of the normal morning commute traffic.

CONCERNS [CEQA]:
– CEQA: In general, districts can apply for a formal notice of exemption from CEQA due to school closures. Unless the closure increases capacity by more than 25 percent or 10 classrooms, whichever is less.
– Currrently, El Dorado has 872 students and the capacity for over 1,200 students and Westwood has a capacity of 492. So, the combined capacity would be close to 1,700 students. If every student moved over from Glenbrook (520) there would be 1,392. Therefore, we would not need to add any new buildings and would not increase capacity by 25 percent.

CONCERNS [GANGS]:
– Gangs: Spoke with both Glenbrook and El Dorado principals, and Concord Police Chief Guy Swanger. Police Chief Swanger also spoke with his gang unit leader prior to providing me with input. They all feel that the campus would be safe and concerns can be addressed. Police Chief Swanger offered to have his team meet with the school administration team to address any specific concerns.

SILVERWOOD
– Program for students with Autism would be moved to Wren Avenue Elementary.

NECESSARY SMALL HIGH SCHOOLS:
Currently, the following programs are part of our alternative education program:
– Olympic (Concord): 335 students (must be age 16)
– Crossroads (Concord): 61 students [pregnant or mothers]
– Gateway (Bay Point): 46 students (must be age 16)
– Nueva Vista (Concord): 45 students (must be age 16)
– Summit (Concord): 41 students (must be age 16)
– TLC (Concord): 23 students (must be age 14) 8th gr [retained]
– Prospect (Pleasant Hill): 46 students (must be age 16)
– Horizons/CIS: 119 students (grades 9-12) [independent study]
– Home Study: 54 students (K-12)
– Diablo Day Community School: 37 students [expelled]

CAN WE CONSOLIDATE [NSHS] PROGRAMS TO SAVE FUNDING?
– We could combine some of the continuation high school programs (Nueva Vista/Summit, Gateway, Prospect, Olympic) on Olympic campus. [Crossroads is already at Olympic]
– TLC is a program for 8x [post-8th-graders who aren’t promoted to ninth grade]. Instead of being retained these students are placed in the TLC program.
– Diablo Community Day School is a necessary program because the county’s Golden Gate program does not have capacity to service all of our students, and it does not have the special education programs to serve our students with IEPs. Students with IEPs that were not served in the Golden Gate program would have NPS placement which are much more costly.

CLOSING WILLOW CREEK [Center in Concord]:
– Diablo Community Day School is at this facility and by law a Community Day School has to be on a separate location because it serves students who have been expelled from the district. We would need to move the program to another closed school.
– The only staff member that comes out of the general fund would be the custodian which would generate an approximate $50,000 savings.
– Energy costs are approximately $45,000
– Ongoing savings from Willow Creek would be approximately $95,000
– One-time savings from Willow Creek would be the value of the property which can be used for any one-time expenditure (ie. textbooks, computers, buses, etc.)”

[END OF POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]

After the board’s retreat on Sunday, in which the facilitator stressed the importance of providing open, transparent information to the public, it’s surprising this wasn’t posted online before the meeting. Lawrence told me he worked on it up until just before the meeting and it wasn’t posted because his executive assistant wasn’t there.

It’s also surprising that Lawrence didn’t distribute copies of the presentation to School Closure Advisory Committee members, even though they were being asked to weigh in on the suggestion to close Westwood Elementary and move all Glenbrook students to El Dorado.

Although trustees haven’t voted to remove Wren Avenue Elementary from the list of schools being considered for closure, they don’t appear to be looking at that campus, according to this presentation.

FEB. 17 UPDATE: The superintendent’s PowerPoint is now online at http://bit.ly/gDGy76.

Do you think the board should close Westwood or Silverwood elementary, look at closing the Willow Creek Center or consolidating Small Necessary High Schools?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]