Declining enrollment, cuts in state funding and steadily increasing expenses, including employee and retiree benefits, have contributed to the problem.
School district officials project that the situation will worsen next year and the school board has ordered the district to close and consolidate schools, many of which are nowhere near their enrollment capacity.
In the first scenario, the school district would close Castro, Coronado, El Sobrante, Lake, Olinda and Shannon elementary schools as well as Adams Middle School and Kennedy High School. The district would convert Mira Vista, Wilson and Stege elementary schools and Crespi Middle School to kindergarten through eighth grade schools.
In the second scenario, the school district would close Collins, Coronado, El Sobrante, Highland, Stege and Valley View elementary schools as well as Portola Middle School and Kennedy High School. The district would convert Mira Vista, King and Castro elementary schools and Crespi Middle School to kindergarten through eighth grade schools.
In both scenarios the district proposes to keep the Kennedy High School building and use it for other programs and close and sell the other properties.
The district estimates that the closure of each elementary school would save an estimated $300,000 while the closure of a middle or high school would save $800,000.
The total savings from each closure scenario would add up to about $1.5 million in the 2009-2010 fiscal year and an additional $1.5 million in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, according to the school district.
A community meeting is scheduled for tonight at Lovonya De Jean Middle School, located at 3400 Macdonald Ave. in Richmond, to discuss the two school closure scenarios.
The closure committee will hold several meetings in January and is scheduled to present its final recommendation Jan. 29.
The school board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the recommendation Feb. 4 and make its final decision Feb. 11.