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Posted by xaviervir on November 21, 2010

The following article appeared in  the West County Times paper on Sat. Nov. 20.  In the last two years, the city of San Pablo has come to the rescue of Lake School.  We think that the city should come to the rescue again and stop the closing of Lake School.

Audience walks out of school closure meeting

By Shelly Meron
Contra Costa Times

Posted: 11/18/2010 08:30:31 PM PST
Updated: 11/19/2010 02:14:46 PM PST

Emotions ran high Thursday night at a parent meeting focused on where San Pablo elementary school students will go next year after their campus closes.

Nearly 200 parents, students and teachers attended the meeting at Lake Elementary — which is set to shut down at the end of the school year — to hear details of the transition. The crowd intermittently waved signs, sang and chanted in opposition to the closure, then essentially ended the meeting after an hour when a majority left the multipurpose room in protest.

“You’re breaking up the family,” said a choked-up Charlene Davis, whose grandson attends Lake. “Please come up with another solution.”

In 2009, the school board decided to close eight schools, including Lake, over a three-year period for financial reasons. Three campuses have already been shuttered.

District officials said they plan to redistribute Lake students to three other elementary schools in the district: Bayview, Highland or Dover. Angry and tearful speakers said they did not think the other schools have room to accommodate Lake students, or were too far for parents who could not drive their children to school.

“It means that people might leave the community,” said parent Patricia Ponce. “Transportation is a big issue.”

Superintendent Bruce Harter told parents the closure was unavoidable.

“We don’t have any choice about closing schools. We have to do it,” he said. “We’re trying to keep the district

solvent. It’s a huge challenge and the cuts are everywhere. It’s a very sad thing.”When Harter invited principals from the other three schools to speak, Ponce abruptly led most of the audience members out of the multipurpose room in protest.

“We’re focusing on one thing — keeping our school open,” Ponce said. “We are always seen as a community that keeps quiet, takes what they give us. But we don’t want to get the leftovers.”

The mother of two third-graders said closing Lake would be devastating to a community already struggling. With many people losing their jobs and homes in the area, she said, it would be crushing for children to have their school closed too.

Ponce also challenged the equity of the closure, asking why earlier this week the school board discussed adding a sixth grade to Madera Elementary in El Cerrito, with a possible expense of portable classrooms, but cannot manage the estimated $300,000 a year it would cost to keep Lake open.

“What kind of message does that send the community?” she said. “Are they more worthy?”

Lake Elementary was originally set to close two years ago, but was kept open for the last and current school years with funding from the City of San Pablo. The city has not offered more money, but San Pablo city councilman Leonard McNeil said he would like to talk with district administrators again and see if anything else could be done.

The school board is expected to decide on reassignments in January for students at Lake and Shannon Elementary in Pinole, which is also set to close at the end of the school year.

Staff writer Shelly Meron covers education in West Contra Costa. Follow her at



  1. Shelby said

    (1) There was recently a survey of what the people wanted. Third on the list was education and city support for schools. Why is this survey being ignored? (We, the taxpayers paid $150k for it.)
    (2) The survey info asked if the city should buy Lake School for $1. Is the closing of the school another land grab for the city manager’s land bank?
    (3) Is this part of the city manager’s plan to drive out lower income people so he can confiscate property for developers to build units for higher income people with more “disposable income”?(See comment form parent re people might have to leave community.)
    (4) What are the numbers? Is the school being closed to support the high incomes and retirement benefits of those making the decisions? (Go to CCTimes for public employee incomes, 2009 Note Bruce Harter total income=$289,842. How bout cut all salaries over $60k by 5,10%? Cut the kids or cut the fat cats? It’s the people’s tax money paying for all.They should decide.)
    (5) What are the numbers? The city now spends $500k on graffiti, hundreds of thousands on flowered circles for the intersections no one asked for and more $$ for ‘traffic calming’ which will add pollution to the city. Go to city budget on line under finance and check the numbers. Check out how much for ‘consultants’. These are people trained to convince you they are justified in spending your tax money for things you don’t want or need.
    (6)When was it decided this school was to be closed? Who knew and when did they know?
    (7)The city plans on adding population with ‘mixed use’ development. How many do they plan on adding? Where will the new kids go to school? Is this what we want? More crowded schools? The people who are deciding this do not live here or pay taxes here, including the city manager, Matt Rodriguez. The only chance to reverse this is through city council. They usually defer voting on anything people object to until the next meeting, hoping no one will show up twice. Show up.
    San Pablo Community Alliance

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