Community unites to keep San Pablo school open

January 5, 2011 6:16:44 PM PST
A San Pablo elementary school has been saved from the chopping block thanks to parents and teachers. The school board was supposed to begin re-assigning students, but that's changed now.

All 430 students at Lake School Elementary in San Pablo were meant to be reassigned to other nearby schools by next year. It was yet another school the West Contra Costa Unified School District was going to close because of its budget deficit.

"We've overcome a lot of hurdles in terms of that, but we never know where Gov. Brown will go with his proposals. It cost $300,000 to operate the school, and that is what we hoped to save," school board president Charles Ramsey said.

But parents and teacher Eric Swabeck fought to keep the school open.

"Neighborhood schools are by their own definition a community center. People care about them and people need them and it's important, just for that reason alone," Swabeck said.

So for the past two years, the city of San Pablo has used money from its general fund to keep the school open. But it was supposed to be a temporary fix while the school district got back on its feet.

"We had some extra money we could afford it. But now it's not that simple," San Pablo Mayor Genoveva Garcia Calloway said.

Not that simple because San Pablo no longer has extra money. Still on Monday, to everyone's surprise, the City Council is expected to vote to keep Lake Elementary open in September.

"What I can say is that the five council members are committed to saving Lake for our neighborhood," Garcia Calloway said.

In addition, the San Pablo City Council will ask staff members to come up with an innovative plan to continue funding the school, which may include the business community.

The plan is to find money in other areas without tapping into the general fund while waiting for the economy to improve.