Richmond city council to vote on school closures

September 6, 2010 7:32:23 PM PDT
The fate of a high school in Richmond is now in the hands of the city council which will vote Tuesday night on whether to save the school.

If it closes, the ramifications will be serious. Closing Kennedy High and two elementary schools in Richmond would save the district $1.5 million. It makes sense given that the West Contra Costa Unified School District has a funding problem because of the severe state economic crisis.

The Richmond city council is now the school's only hope.

"If the city of Richmond does not approve $1.5 million tomorrow night, then the board will take immediate action to close this school and send kids off to other schools like Richmond High or De Anza or El Cerrito High," says board member Charles Ramsey.

Richmond recently reached a settlement with Chevron for $114 million over 15 years. The two sides had been fighting over how much Chevron should pay in utility taxes.

"So, I feel it's fair that a small part of that money be allocated to keeping schools open," says council member Jim Rogers.

While Rogers supports the proposal, it is not clear how the other members will vote.

If Kennedy closes, it would be the first time in 23 years that a high school in West Contra Costa shuts its doors. The last one to do so was Harry Ells High School.

"I can count on one hand probably, the number of high schools in the East Bay that have closed in the last 50 or 60 years," Ramsey says. "It's not common."

The closure would affect about 900 students and thousands of others from nearby schools.

"If the kids of our community are not educated, they're going to end up on the streets doing bad things," says Kennedy student Fabiola Gutierrez. "It's more likely for them to fall into bad influences. So, I think it affects everyone in our community, not just if you are a high school student or not."

If the city council votes against the proposal, Kennedy would close next year.


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