HAYWARD, Calif. (KGO) -- A nearly four and a half hour Hayward Unified School Board meeting ended just before 11 PM with members voting to close two schools next year due to budget shortfalls. Bowman and Strobridge will close. SIAC and HUG Pre-K will also move to elementary school sites.
Glassbrook and Ochoa schools will continue to accept new students but it's up in the air if they will stay open in the 2023/2024 school year. Closures at Bret Harte, Faith Ringgold, Helen Turner Pre-K, Brenkwitz/Hayward Adult School for the 2024/2025 school year are also up in the air and to be determined.
Superintendent of Hayward Unified Matt Wayne says that they have a budget shortfall of more than $14 million and $900 million in building repairs needed.
"I have a responsibility to be honest with our community and as district superintendent I can say the fundamental facts are not changing anytime soon. We have too many schools for too few students," said Wayne who continued saying, "Even if we just did minimal repairs it's a significant amount of money for each of our aging facilities and that doesn't even get to getting in the kind of classroom upgrades we want for our students."
Those with the district say there has been a 25% decline in the number of Hayward students over the past 20 years. That trend isn't expected to turn around in future years either.
More than a hundred community members rallied Wednesday in support of the district's revised plan to close four schools and eight properties.
"What they're doing is unfair and unexpected," said school employee Ailssa Pigman.
"We have a great school and great teachers. Why should we have to close down?" said 7th grader Maricella Castro.
"Even if enrollment is down you still should not be closing down the school. Because of that you need to advertise and get people to come back to Hayward and want to live in Hayward," said Khadijah Abdulhaqq who is a school employee in the district.
"Properties can be leased out, buildings can be sold, consolidation of certain positions can happen, before we get to shutting down complete schools," said another employee.
The future of Glassbrook and Ochoa schools is up in the air. They will be open next school year but the board will revisit the issue of closing them or keeping them open in the future. The board will also look at possible changes to Bret Harte, Faith Ringgold, Helen Turner Pre-k, and Brenkwitz/Hayward Adult School for the 2024/2025 school year at a later time.