Alameda considers creating mega-schools

September 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
There is a radical option being considered in Alameda. The idea is to close half of the city's schools to cut costs, but it's a consolidation plan that would essentially create mega-schools, with a significant age gap.

Wednesday was Back to School Night at Lincoln Middle School -- one of nine schools in Alameda that could close in the next two years. Wood Middle School, along with Washington and Paden elementary schools, could also shut down as early as next year. In 2012, possibly Edison, Otis, Lum, Franklin and Bay Farm elementary schools could close. One option would be to create two giant high schools for 7th thru 12 grade.

Eric Martinez would be a 12-year-old freshman. When the 7th grader was asked if that idea was intimidating to him, he replied, "Yes, yes it is."

Parent Cindy Wang says high schools, in China where she grew up are structured the same way, but the she worries that students here might not adapt as well.

"As a middle schooler, we don't get bad influences from the high school kids. Here America is such a free country, so my biggest concern is how the high schoolers are going to effect the middle schoolers," said Wang.

Elementary schools could also become mega K-6 schools with up to 1,000 students, with kindergarten thru third grade class sizes ballooning to 32 students per teacher.

"There's simply not enough room for all the children," said parent Glenda Machrus.

Even with all these cuts. The district says it could still be short up to $12 million during the next two years.

The writing was on the wall when voters rejected a parcel tax last June. Home owners would have been required to pay $659 a year and business would have had to pay $9,500 a year.

But many businesses say they would not have survived this recession with a tax bill that high. The schools are what attracted so many people to move to Alameda and now many parents are questioning whether or not they should stay.


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