W. CoCo decides which schools to close

February 11, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Bay Area school districts made difficult cuts on Wednesday night. Jobs and schools were on the line, since they were simply out of other ways to deal with their tight budgets.

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West Contra Costa County Unified schools have to shave $16 million out of their budget and that means closing schools and selling the property. On Wednesday night, the school board voted four-to-one to close four schools: El Sobrante Elementary, Castro Elementary, Lake Elementary and Adams Middle School. Only one school was saved.

It was a huge show of support that helped save Shannon Elementary School from being closed. The mayor of Pinole, where the school is located, reminded the school board that Pinole has helped fund district programs.

"I ask you, what is the incentive for other cities to give their redevelopment money, if this is how Pinole is treated with Shannon closing?" said Pinole Mayor Mary Horton.

Shannon Elementary will be put on the back burner for two years, but four other schools are slated for closure. Lake Elementary and San Pablo however was not in panic mode. The Richmond vice mayor told the school board the council was preparing action to come up with the $300,000 a year to keep Lake Elementary afloat.

El Sobrante and Adams Middle School are in unincorporated parts of the county and had no city support.

"I'm pissed and upset. My chest hurts right now," said a Nelda Welten, a Castro Elementary parent.

Castro Elementary is in the unincorporated city of El Cerrito, but no city officials were at the meeting on Wednesday night.

"Where's El Cerrito? Where is the city council of El Cerrito?" said Welten.

There were more than 500 people at the school board meeting and many of them left unhappy with four schools slated for closure. The superintendant pointed out that school districts across the country are making similar decisions.

West Contra Costa County Schools closing:
El Sobrante Elementary School in El Sobrante
Castro Elementary School in El Cerrito
Lake Elementary School in San Pablo
Adams Middle School in Richmond

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