Mystery Education Theater 3000

Sell the Abandoned Site That Used to Be Adams (7 Years Ago)


WCCUSD staff worked out a great way to accommodate the district’s legal requirement for housing a growing charter school while getting a closed school site that has been festering as abandoned buildings since 2009 out of its hair. The plan: sell the abandoned property to the charter in return for the charter (Caliber) waiving it’s future legal facilities rights. Slowness in moving forward with the plan has allowed a coalition driven by fear and hate to mobilize to possibly nix the deal.

The staff presentation from the August 2nd study session for the issue is here.

It’s on the agenda tonight as a closed session item: “A.3.1. CONFERENCE WITH REAL PROPERTY NEGOTIATOR (Section 54956.8)”. Here’s the e-mail I sent in:

Dear Board Members and Superintendent: 
You should approve the deal for the sale of the Adams school site to Caliber, as detailed in the presentation from the August 2nd study session. It meets 2 separate pressing needs in 1 stroke: what to do about the Adams site and what to do about your obligation to accommodate Caliber's housing requirements under Prop. 39 (the same proposition that enables 55% votes to approve bond measures). This would prevent further bleeding of money and eliminate the possible need for shuffling other students around in an alternative scenario for Caliber. 
This is an excellent opportunity to make a rational decision for facilities planning as opposed to the irrational overly political process more typical of past decision-making for facilities. Stand up to the coalition of fear and hate that has chosen this issue as yet another apocalyptic battle. When I consider the fear-mongering aspect of this movement, I always think of when I was at a school board meeting two or three years ago in which the Summit charter was being discussed. One of the leaders of the network of middle class families, that fought to not close Portola (which meant closing Adams) and now seems to regard all WCCUSD west of San Pablo Ave. and south of Wildcat as their turf, came up to me and told me that she would be forced to move if Summit were allowed at the Windrush site because it would, obviously, destroy Portola (Korematsu). A few years later, both she and the school are still here. 
I suggest channeling the anti-charter fervor away from scrambling facilities planning for the district and into channels that are more constructive. Here are three suggestions: 
1. Invite charter opponents to develop and propose their own rigorous rubric for interpreting the statutory criteria for any charter application or renewal. 
2. Have staff hold a properly noticed informal public hearing _before_ they finish their report to the board for each application or renewal, so community concerns can be voiced earlier on. 
3. Informally, as individuals, encourage the formation of a community charter-monitoring committee for WCCUSD only that would "forensically" review the operations and applications of only WCCUSD charters acting as a devil's advocate (but one that really supports the devil :) ) for the process in the district. 
Thank you, 
Charles Cowens 
Local Resident


Categories: WCCUSD

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1 Comment

  1. Charley,

    I think your assessment of the real problem in this district is correct, I will call it the “crabs in the barrel” syndrome, that all works to pull the other down, when they see them crawling out of the barrel, for fear that they may have something better. The need to only focus on ones self, rather than the good for the communities is always at play. It comes in the forum of telling public charter school parents that they don’t know what is good for their children, and they should listen to those who wish to continue to allow for the oppression and mis-education of Richmond students, by using the Richmond tax base to build better schools for their students, have better teachers, etc. So the District continue to postpone dealing with what should be a common sense approach to educating all students in the best post way, rather than listening to those that have not walked a block in the shoes of the students and parents of Caliber. Only in time will we know the outcomes of the state’s decision to allow for public charters, but we do know now, if students continue to receive the substandard education that is currently happening for students of color in this district, it can only enrich the school to prison pipeline. And the leaders of the District will continue their “deep dive” learning about what the state assessments mean, while not dealing with a combination of all school assessments.

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