Re: El Cerritos Anti-social disease epidemic spreads to schools.
- ..and here's the report from today's CONTRA COSTA TIMES:
School district to close Fairmont Elementary in El Cerrito
By Kimberly S. Wetzel
Article Launched:04/05/2007 11:15:17 AM PDT
In an emotional meeting filled with teary-eyed Fairmont Elementary
students, parents, teachers and neighborhood residents, the West
Contra Costa school district this week answered the question of where
to put Portola Middle School by approving a plan to close Fairmont and
put Portola in its place.
The board voted 3-1 in favor of the controversial plan, which involves
a complicated land swap with the city of El Cerrito and a plan to buy
property from residents along Lexington Avenue near the school. If the
plan is found to be a reasonable site through a state environmental
quality act and other feasibility studies, Fairmont will be closed and
the students who attend will be reassigned to other schools.
The decision came after 30 people -- including students from Fairmont
-- took the podium to plead with the board to reconsider the plan.
They argued that Fairmont, which sits on 5.65 acres, is too small for
a middle school, and displacing students who have worked hard to get
test scores up is unfair.
Several parents, students and teachers broke into tears outside the
board room after the vote was taken.
"This is not over," Fairmont PTA President Colleen Cooper said.
"They've got a fight on their hands. This is ridiculous. How can they
do this to our kids?"
Several of the parents were shocked to learn that the district's most
recent plan involved closing the school altogether rather than moving
Fairmont to the Alvarado adult school campus, which was previously
The district has determined that Portola -- which sits atop a steep
slope at 1021 Navellier St. -- is seismically unsafe, has a history of
landslides, and must be moved for the students' safety.
The district held a series of community meetings last winter to ask
for community input on the issue. Several sites, including Castro
Elementary and El Cerrito High School, were briefly considered.
How much it will cost to build the middle school at Portola, how long
the transitional process will take, and when Fairmont students will be
relocated to other schools remains up in the air. The plan involves
moving the city's library and senior center to the lower pad on the
Portola property so the district can use the existing library and
senior center space for the middle school.
"This is going to be incredibly challenging for both of our agencies,"
said Karen Pinkos, El Cerrito's assistant city manager. "This is going
to impact every single department in the city."
Nonetheless, Pinkos said the city is still committed to building a new
library and senior center.
Board member Dave Brown was the lone dissenter of the plan, and
suggested the board take pause and look at all options before voting
yes on a proposal that seems complicated, costly and hastily arrived at.
"Our process was horrible, and we have to do better," Brown said. "I'm
concerned with the way we're conducting business."
Board President Karen Pfeifer said the choice wasn't an easy one but
she believed it was the right one.
"This is certainly a situation where we will not make everyone happy,
" Pfeifer said. "I think that I can assure you that the children do in
fact come first."
In other action, the board voted 3-1 to redirect money slated for the
rebuilding of Castro Elementary School to pay for Leadership charter
and Gompers alternative schools' $23 million campus. Castro will now
get $350,000 of the estimated $19.5 million it was scheduled to
receive for a new school.
Reach Kimberly S. Wetzel at 510-262-2798 or kwetzel@....
--- In email@example.com, "petr_loubal" <ploubal@...> wrote:
> Charles Ramsey should know better. He got WCCUSD staff to admit they
> had colluded with the City in working out the Portola/Fairmont swap
> ("Yes, we talked about it, and City staff seemed to like it," was the
> downplay). But of course Ramsey wouldn't admit to any discussion
> between Board and Council-members, direct or indirect. No serial Brown
> Act violation here. It was an interesting dance. On one hand "Don't
> blame staff, the Board makes the decisions." On the other hand "Of
> course staff speaks to each other, and the Board shouldn't
> Like, "Who fathered your child?" answered by "Sorry, I was too busy
> looking in the opposite direction!"
> And "Don't worry about moving Fairmont, we'll just close it down,"
> Ramsey added. The remaining two Board ladies joined him, for a 3:1
> vote to proceed with the one and only "lead" proposal. Dave Brown was
> the sole "no" vote, suggesting that other alternatives be fully and
> methodically examined first, based on a criteria matrix and some cost
> "Lead proposal?" It is obvious who leads whom by the nose in this
> process. San Pablo, and now maybe Richmond, have laid claim to
> Casinos to get the money staff needs to make it to retirement. El
> Cerrito Staff and Council hope to make it via massive housing
> developments along San Pablo Avenue. The pay-offs are of course
> indirect. The City attorney makes sure there is no criminal
> corruption, moral corruption doesn't count.
> "Affordable housing along a beautified Grand Boulevard" is the slogan
> expected to generate the money, not for the City's general fund, but
> much heftier "incremental taxes" going straight to Redevelopment. To
> be "reinvested" for ever more growth. With the take split 40% to
> staff and consultants, 60% to developers, Council (and maybe now
> Board) can be assured of all the support and campaign contributions
> they need for reelection, or future political ambitions.
> To make the plan more palatable to voters, the City needs to cloak of
> respectability. That's the role for El Cerrito's plan for a Grand
> Community Center expansion, across the parking lot to the bottom of
> Portola: New library, new senior center, new gym, etc., to be paid
> for by Redevelopment, with "hopefully" a new tax contribution from
> gullible taxpayers.
> A generation ago, Redevelopment was brought in, among others to "rid
> San Pablo Avenue of prostitution." The poor "working girl" variety
> have been cleaned out, but only in favor of a better class of whores.
> Ones who don't sell their bodies but just their principles, for
> personal gain. The School Board should look out, this sort of
> unprotected intercourse leads not to social disease, but to antisocial
> Sacrificing a small established local school, Fairmont. Totally
> ignoring the option of a "Tiger Woods Middle School" on part of the
> Mira Vista golf course, or the simple expedient of moving downhill on
> Portola and across to the other side of Moeser. The City has had this
> disease for years. Staff and Council know who calls the shots, it is
> El Cerrito's Hillside elite. They masquerades as progressive
> liberals, but truly are elitist, (not racist). They have theirs, and
> let the flatlanders doff their caps, and vote as they're told.
> Well, actually we have a lot of friends "up the hill," and most of
> them aren't bad, just preoccupied, as are most of us, with the
> complexities of modern life. A community is only as healthy as its
> base, a dead fish starts to stink from its head - I was hoping a
> threat to take half the Mira Vista golf course, for a good cause,
> would at least wake them up to what is going on
> The next step in the process is to make sure CEQA takes into account
> total cost and environmental impact implication of the land swap
> proposal and the social disruption associated with closing Fairmont.
> The project needs a "Scoping session" and residents will have to
> insist on Environmental impacts being assessed not just for the Middle
> School at Fairmont, but the whole land swap implication. And a proper
> comparison of several alternative options. We must make sure this
> antisocial disease epidemic is held in check.