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

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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

1 thought on “Sell the Abandoned Site That Used to Be Adams (7 Years Ago)

  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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