Rebuild Fairmont

Discussion supporting Annex schools, particularly Fairmont Elementary, Korematsu Middle School and El Cerrito High.

Rebuild Fairmont

Postby tim » Thu Feb 05, 2015 3:32 pm

The Annex's neighborhood public school Fairmont has been on the District's rebuild list for several years now. But with the failure of Measure U, the latest bond measure, the WCCUSD is reevaluating all of it's remaining projects, and there is a chance that Fairmont will be postponed or even cancelled. There are million of dollars still in the fund, but big projects like Pinole Valley HS will require a large percentage of remaining funds, and it's unlikely that all schools will be rebuilt until public support returns.

Richmond Annex resident and former Fairmont PTA President Saidah Said distributed a letter signed by over 50 Fairmont parents to the WCCUSD School Board in mid-January in an effort to rally support for Fairmont. Last week the Richmond City Coucil voted to send a letter of support for another Richmond school.

Please read her letter and send notes of support to our city council members. (FOR EMAILS, VISIT: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=68&p=192)

Dear Trustees,

My family lives in Richmond and we have been part of Fairmont Elementary School — our resident school — for the past decade. I read with interest the recommended action from the Richmond City Council, dated Feb. 3, 2015, directing staff “to prepare a letter in support of the Valley View Campus Project and deliver the letter to the WCCUSD Board prior to their meeting on February 11th.” I would like the Richmond City Council to also be aware that Richmond residents, who together with El Cerrito residents form the Fairmont School community, have been waiting for over a decade to get our school rebuilt. It is only fair for the Richmond City Council to also advocate for the reconstruction of Fairmont School, bearing in mind that Fairmont is where over 300 Richmond students attend school.

Fairmont School, one of the oldest schools in the WCCUSD with a history that stretches beyond 100 years, is located on the border of El Cerrito and Richmond. As such, our school serves students from both cities. In fact, 310 of our 580 students* live in Richmond. (The figure of Fairmont students from Richmond is comparable to the total population of Valley View -- 336 students -- that draw from Richmond and perhaps the unincorporated community of El Sobrante). Fairmont is the only school that serves Richmond Annex, a substantial geographical area bounded by San Pablo Avenue to the Bay shoreline and Potrero to San Jose/Central Avenues. The Greater Richmond Annex area is unusually dense compared to most neighborhoods as it includes a mix of mostly older postwar 1940s bungalow homes and multiple units. Standard size 5,000 SQF lots were subdivided over the years, creating many 2,500 SQF lots. We need our school ready for our growing community.

In 2012, the District authorized the Master Plan for a Fairmont reconstruction after passage of Measure D in June 2010 (click here for the master plan). Fairmont’s rebuild has been delayed since it is contingent on the availability of the current Korematsu (Portola) portable campus to accommodate our students during the planned reconstruction. Korematsu (Portola) is slated for completion in December of 2015.

Fairmont’s reconstruction must not be postponed or canceled for the following reasons:
-- Our campus is overcrowded. Our enrollment stands at 580 students, with about 250 students in portables since the early 1990s. In 2009, when Castro Elementary School was closed to make way for the construction of Portola Middle School (now Korematsu), Fairmont absorbed half of Castro’s student population as well as its teaching faculty.
-- Our campus infrastructure is aging and experiencing the challenges of growing older. Fairmont's current building was built in 1957, at around the same time when Stege was built.
-- Our campus is over-utilized. There is no space for a dedicated computer lab, reading lab, or science lab at our school. And one of our portables is used for our school library.
-- Several of our buildings are not ADA-compliant, and thus Fairmont, which serves a large number of special ed students (from full inclusion to severely handicapped students) cannot fully meet the needs of our special ed students. The new design for Fairmont is a full-inclusion school in all aspects, including the playground structures.
-- Parents and residents of Fairmont School -- as well as the former Castro School (also slated for reconstruction before it was closed) -- supported Measure M, Measure J and Measure D, with the expectation that our children would have a nearby school to attend.
-- It is truly a community school, one that residents of Richmond and El Cerrito can, and do walk to.

In terms of academic performance, Fairmont has shown a steady increase in test scores over the last seven years. From a base score of 570 in 1999, our score has risen to over 800 in 2013. We have exceeded target growth goals for our African-American, Hispanic and socioeconomically disadvantaged students. Demographically, we are diverse (breakdown: 34% Hispanic, 18% African American, 18% Caucasian, and 28% Asian. 34% are English Language learners and 51% from low-income families).

We would like to invite you to our February PTA General Meeting tomorrow evening, Thursday, February 5, starting at 6 p.m. in the multipurpose Room. At this meeting, the PTA will showcase some of our programs, and you will get to meet some of our parents. Our address is 724 Kearney St, El Cerrito, but please access the multipurpose room from the parking lot off Stockton at Lexington (shared with the EC library and senior center.)

The Fairmont community has been waiting a long time to see our school rebuilt. We are also approaching the City Council of El Cerrito for their support.

Please advocate for the reconstruction of Fairmont School as well, and show your residents that a new Fairmont for present and future Richmond and El Cerrito students are worth your time and effort.

Thank you for your time and we look forward to hearing your response to our appeal.

Yours sincerely,

Saidah Said, Fairmont Parent and Richmond Resident Since 2005


Latest figures of enrollment:
http://www.wccusd.net/cms/lib03/CA01001 ... Packet.pdf
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Re: Rebuild Fairmont

Postby tim » Fri Feb 06, 2015 12:13 pm

We had three school board members attend Fairmont's PTA meeting last night -- Todd Groves, Liz Block, and Valerie Cuevas. To avoid a Brown Act violation, Valerie ended up leaving as soon as questions began about Fairmont's reconstruction status, but she was there as I discussed Fairmont's site planning history.

The conversation was brisk, and unfortunately, frustrating. Political heavy-weights are pushing the District forward on this one project when they would be more prudent to slow down and take stock. I hope to post more soon about how people in our neighborhood can engage on this issue. But please consider sending a message to school board and city council members this weekend.

Next week (Wed, Feb 11), the school board will decide whether to move ahead with Valley View. If their temporary campus is approved, it will be hard to stop their project, and could mean a (fourth) delay of several years for Fairmont. And may jeopardize our rebuild completely.
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Re: Rebuild Fairmont

Postby tim » Mon Feb 09, 2015 6:39 pm

This flier was distributed at Fairmont's PTA meeting last week. It contains a call to action for neighbors who care about our public school.

REBUILD FAIRMONT!

There’s been talk that Fairmont reconstruction, which was thought to be guaranteed with the passage of Measure D in 2010, and was slated to start as soon as the Korematsu (Portola) Middle School moves to its new campus, may now not happen. As a community, we should try to press the case that Fairmont’s reconstruction must not be postponed or canceled for the following reasons:

-- Our campus is overcrowded. Our enrollment stands at 580 students, with about 250 students in portables since the early 1990s. In 2009, when Castro Elementary School was closed to make way for the construction of Portola Middle School (now Korematsu), Fairmont absorbed half of Castro’s student population as well as its teaching faculty.

-- Our campus infrastructure is aging and experiencing the challenges of growing older. Fairmont's current building was built in 1957, at around the same time when Stege was built.

-- Our campus is over-utilized. There is no space for a dedicated computer lab, reading lab, or science lab at our school. And one of our portables is used for our school library.

-- Several of our buildings are not ADA-compliant, and thus Fairmont, which serves a large number of special ed students (from full inclusion to severely handicapped students) cannot fully meet the needs of our special ed students. The new design for Fairmont is a full-inclusion school in all aspects, including the playground structures.

-- Parents and residents of Fairmont School -- as well as the former Castro School (also slated for reconstruction before it was closed) -- supported Measure M, Measure J and Measure D, with the expectation that our children would have a nearby school to attend.

-- It is truly a community school, one that residents of Richmond and El Cerrito can, and do walk to.

— Fairmont is a functioning school. In terms of academic performance, Fairmont has shown a steady increase in test scores over the last seven years. From a base score of 570 in 1999, our score has risen to over 800 in 2013. We have exceeded target growth goals for our African-American, Hispanic and socioeconomically disadvantaged students.

We need the Fairmont community to:

1. Stand up and speak up at the WCCUSD School Board Meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 11. The meeting starts at 6:30 pm at Lavonya DeJean Middle School, 3400 Macdonald Avenue, Richmond, CA 94805.

2. Write to the Richmond City Council, if you are a Richmond resident, with the following message pegged on to the above:

I would like the Richmond City Council to also be aware that Richmond residents, who together with El Cerrito residents form the Fairmont School community, have been waiting for over a decade to get our school rebuilt. It is only fair for the Richmond City Council to also advocate for the reconstruction of Fairmont School, bearing in mind that Fairmont is where over 300 Richmond students attend school.

Fairmont School, one of the oldest schools in the WCCUSD with a history that stretches beyond 100 years, is located on the border of El Cerrito and Richmond. As such, our school serves students from both cities. In fact, 310 of our 580 students* live in Richmond. Fairmont is the only school that serves Richmond Annex, a substantial geographical area bounded by San Pablo Avenue to the Bay shoreline and Potrero to San Jose/Central Avenues.

Richmond City Council

Tom Butt <tom.butt@intres.com>
Nat Bates <natbates@comcast.net>
Jovanka Beckles <jovanka_beckles@ci.richmond.ca.us>
Gayle McLaughlin <gayle@definingourdestiny.net>
Jael Myrick <Jael_Myrick@ci.richmond.ca.us>
Eduardo Martinez <Eduardo_Martinez@ci.richmond.ca.us>
Vinay Pimplé < vinay_pimple@ci.richmond.ca.us>

3. Write to the City Council of El Cerrito with the following message pegged on to the arguments above, if you are an El Cerrito resident:



I would like now to urge the City Council of El Cerrito to advocate to the WCCUSD board and staff for the reconstruction of Fairmont School.



El Cerrito City Council

Mark Friedman <mfriedman@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us>
Greg Lyman <glyman@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us>
Janet Abelson <jabelson@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us>
Jen Bridges <jbridges@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us>
Gabe Quinto <gquinto@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us>

Write to the West Contra Costa Unified School Board with the following message pegged on the message above:

4. We are Fairmont parents and have been waiting a long time for our school to get rebuilt. Please do the right thing for our children.

WCCUSD Board:

Todd Groves <toddagroves@gmail.com>
Randall Enos <randallenos@sbcglobal.net>
Madeline Kronenberg <mkronen@aol.com>
Liz Block <LizBlock@comcast.net>
Valerie Cuevas <valerie.Cuevas@wccusd.net>

Any questions, please direct to Saidah Said at saidah.said@gmail.com . Thank you!

Last edited by tim on Sun Feb 28, 2016 11:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Added Vinay Pimplé's email to Richmond city council list
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Re: Rebuild Fairmont

Postby tim » Thu Feb 12, 2015 10:59 am

Despite over 150 letters from Fairmont parents, the WCCUSD school board voted for the Valley View temporary campus last night. This action doesn't **necessarily** mean that Fairmont will be leap-frogged by Valley View on the master schedule. But with students sitting in leased portables, Valley View will have momentum that Fairmont currently lacks.
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Re: Rebuild Fairmont

Postby psmith » Thu Feb 12, 2015 2:15 pm

Thanks for keeping us informed on this issue.
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Re: Rebuild Fairmont

Postby tim » Sat Feb 14, 2015 1:28 pm

Here is the post meeting wrap up from Saidah.

For those of you who want to help, we're setting up a sign up form for meeting participation and will release this shortly.

Hi All,

Thanks to everyone who attended the meeting and who wrote in to the school board this past week.

The final vote was to go ahead with the bid to build a temporary campus for Valley View. Cuevas and Block voted against. Kronenberg, Enos, and Groves went for it.

There was not much of a debate. During board comments, Cuevas asked if the assumption would then be that Valley View is next on the list. Staff said the bid was just to build a temporary campus for Valley View. Funding for a whole new campus is uncertain at this point. The board will have to do a bond sale at the end of 16/17 (and therein is the problem). Cuevas stressed that the Board needed to be clear that Valley View getting the temporary campus does not translate directly into Valley View getting priority over Fairmont. She tried to get this into the wording of the item, but she only did so after the vote was taken. Therefore the add-on wasn't formalized.

Block and Cuevas stressed the need for an evaluation of all the schools that are on the list before going ahead with more construction and before making any school a priority.

Kronenberg told the Board that the District has already paid for the lease of the portables. Yesterday, we heard that the Board had approved to lease the portables, but the contract hasn't been awarded yet. She also defended the former Board's construction decisions, saying that the cost estimations for all the projects have always been much higher than actual spending, and Pinole Valley High School is the only exception.

Sheri Gamba (the District's finance person) said that any decision on prioritization is a Board decision.

Valley View had about 30 people coming in support. Their story is the same as ours -- old, inadequate facilities, and the promise that they will be rebuilt. The main difference with our story is that we have 580 kids and they have only 336. We also have many special ed students.

We had about 10 people from Fairmont. During the Valley View item and during Public Comments, our representatives emphasized that we are not pitting ourselves against Valley View, but simply wanted the board to hold off on awarding any bids and reevaluate the projects according to a clear set of criteria. We drew attention to the fact that our facility is old, inadequate, and more importantly, overcrowded. We stressed that we have double the number of students of Valley View. Our Full Inclusion teacher, Ms. Kelso, spoke passionately about her special ed students, and how their needs are not met. We also mentioned that we have a temporary campus to move into. We presented 150 letters from our parents.

I think the three board members who voted yes, especially Enos and Kronenberg, had already made up their minds before the meeting.

Because the Board moved the Valley View item ahead of the Public Comments, some of us only got to advocate for Fairmont only after the Valley View item was already decided on. Unfortunate.

While the vote was disappointing, those of us who were there felt that if the Board is true to its word -- to do fiscal review and
a comprehensive appraisal of the projects from now onwards -- we still have a chance of getting Fairmont rebuilt. But only if we keep highlighting the issues that we are facing as a school.

We need everyone's support in the following ways:

-- We need to engage each board member individually in a conversation about our school.

-- We need a Fairmont presence at every Facilities Subcommittee meeting and every School Board meeting hereon. Please let me know if you can make any of these meetings:
The remaining School Board meeting dates this year are: March 4 and 18; April 1 and 22; May 6 and 20; and June 10 and 24.
The Facilities Subcomm meeting dates this year are: March 10, April 21, and May 12.

*I'm appealing to all of you to take a look at the dates above and see if you can commit to attending at least one meeting. It is a huge commitment, but let's help each other out.

-- We should do a special presentation on Fairmont at the Facilities Subcommittee meeting and the School Board meeting in April. This we can do by requesting that an agenda item on Fairmont could be included in the board agenda, whenever we are ready. The item goes under "Request to Address the Board."

-- For the presentation, we need to line up speakers to talk about the various reasons why we should get priority. We also need the speakers to reflect our diverse community.


Thank you.

Saidah
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Re: Rebuild Fairmont

Postby tim » Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:36 pm

We met this morning to discuss next steps given the changed situation -- namely that money will likely not be available till 2018-2019.

Why is this?
+ There are a dozen or so project currently in construction (or shortly to begin) that will use up $347 million (which includes money raised in the next two bond issues -- one this month and one in 2016/2017)
+ More bonds cannot be sold now because of limitations on how much debt can be carried based on property assessed values (see Tim for a boring explanation)
+ Pinole Valley HS is a huge part of this expenditure, at estimates of $180 - $220 million. (Current budget is $184 million, but primary construction has not yet been bid.)
+ The remaining funds -- about $220 million -- will be up for grabs in 2018.
(For completeness sake, there will be another $100 million or so in the program, but this money will not be available until approximately 2035 -- so perhaps our kids' kids will benefit.)

Given this, a large Fairmont presence at every meeting is probably futile.

So our new plan:
+ Assign (through SignUpGenius) people to attend Facility Subcommittee (FSC) meetings and Board of Education (BOE) meetings, and have these people provide a brief report.
+ Find out whether there are options for reconfiguring Fairmont's campus in the interim
- Going to do some research on the Senior Center and Library, to see whether it's possible to use these facilities for library and computer lab. (They cannot be used for classrooms because they're too close to the BART tracks.)
- Already working on using the clubhouse for all day kindergarten.
+ Push for more transparency (esp. public meetings) on a temporary campus when Korematsu occupies their new campus. (There are pros and cons for using the temporary campus, and at the very least, we should insist on the District, staff, and parents having a democratic discussion about what best suits our kids.)
+ Make a list of and investigate improvements to the existing Fairmont campus -- principally, new bathrooms, improved fencing, and exterior paint. (Some of this could come out of an existing pool of money called MRAD, which focuses on exteriors.)

The new timings:
+ The district will be making a new plan for construction over the next few months.
+ Korematsu will be complete in December, and I suspect students will move in January 2016.
+ Using the lower pad for Fairmont has already been designed, but I hear that re-configuration will be needed. Before Measure H's failure, HY Architects was projecting Fairmont's move at Fall 2016. So this timeline is CURRENTLY UNKNOWN.
+ Assuming no new bond measure, and assuming the district's plan doesn't lock in priorities for the nearly-shovel-ready schools (Fairmont, Stege, Valley View, and Wilson, plus a couple of others), in 2018 the jockeying for priority will begin.
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Re: Rebuild Fairmont

Postby tim » Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:44 pm

One other issue we discussed in passing is the question of parents bypassing Fairmont because it won't have new buildings. I would hope that Annex residents understand that Fairmont is a great school and community because of its kids, parents, and teachers, not its buildings.
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Re: Rebuild Fairmont

Postby tim » Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:26 pm

There will be a meeting discussing school issues and the building programs next week in El Cerrito that people might be interested in attending. Here is the info:

Dear Friends,
Please join me at the next El Cerrito Democratic Club Meeting when the club will be learning about the state of our school facilities and building program. As you may know, the ECDC has a long history of being a hard working , results-getting club. We turn out the votes. The club membership is aging, however, and few of the active members have children in WCCUSD schools. Help the Club learn about WCCUSD facility issues by attending this presentation by Dr. Harter and Todd Groves, President of the school board.

Babysitting and pizza dinner will be available starting at 6:00. The babysitting, by two El Cerrito High seniors, is free and the club asks for a small donation for the pizza. The presentation will start at 6:30.

Please let me know if you will be coming, so I can pass on a good count for the pizza. The details, below, are from the club's most recent newsletter.

I hope to see you there,
Joanna Pace
(H) 215-1594

P.S. Please share this invitation with other concerned parents and community members.
P.P.S. You do not need to be a club member to attend!

Tuesday, March 24

Zion Presbyterian Church

6:00 p.m.

545 Ashbury Ave

The next Club meeting will be on Tuesday, March 24. We will host will host the Superintendent of the West Contra Costa Unified School District, Dr. Bruce Harter and School Board Member Todd Groves. Both will provide brief updates on the School District and participate in an open Q&A session with the public following their remarks.

We will be rescheduling the legislative update meeting with guest Assembly member Tony Thurmond to later date.

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Re: Rebuild Fairmont

Postby tim » Thu Nov 19, 2015 2:08 pm

Tom Butt's e-tree had an update on the process that is informative. District spokesperson Marcus Walton confirmed at the Bayside PTA meeting last Monday that the BOE will consider the prioritization framework at the Dec 9 board meeting.
WCCUSD is in the process of developing its facilities master plan. They have provided opportunities for public input and have created a group called the Prioritization Committee.

Description of Facilities Master Plan from District website http://www.wccusd.net/FMP

The Facilities Master Plan will guide the prioritization and sequencing of construction projects utilizing the remaining bond funds and future projects beyond current funding. The process includes a data gathering activities in the fall including Demographics, School Capacity, Input Meetings, School Site Assessments and Standards leading to the creation of an overall District wide Needs List. A Prioritization Committee of Community Members from each city, Elementary Parents from each High School Family, Community Bond Over-site Committee Representative and K-12 Operation Representatives will be tasked with taking the input from the Input Meeting and devising criteria for creating a score card for sequencing construction projects. In January and February, the results of these efforts will be brought back out to the community for additional input. The final option will be taken to the Board of Education before Implementation can begin.

The Committee’s Purpose is as follows:

The Prioritization Committee is tasked with developing criteria that will serve as the basis for the order in which the West Contra Costa School District facilities will be considered for project sequencing and funding. The Prioritization Committee will be making a project sequencing recommendation which will be incorporated into and aligned with the overall vision and recommendations in the Facilities Master Plan.

The description re: selection of Committee members is below (per the District):

Each Community Member will be selected by the City Manager of the City. Each member must reside in the City where the Family Area is located. The Community Member should understand the critical role and responsibilities of the Committee, expressed interest in participating in work of the Committee, be committed to the good of whole community while also advocating for their schools located within each specific city. The Community Member may be a past parent, a business person, teacher, property owner or any other definable stakeholder in the community and may not be an elected official. The Prioritization Committee will also include a representative of our Citizens Bond Oversight Committee as well as current parents from each of our high school attendance area families.

The following people are on the Committee:

• Dr. Charlene Harlan-Ogbeide
• Chris Chartland
• Ann Tarabini
• Tom J. Waller
• Tony Gutierrez
• Georgina Edwards
• Patricia Magana
• Jeff H. Casillas
• Jocelyn La Roque
• Bev Kavanagh
• Greg Chang
• Patricia Ponce
• LaShonda White

The Committee's final meeting before the District takes recommendations on criteria and metrics to the Board is tonight. I believe the item is going to the Board on December 9th. There might be additional meetings after the Board meeting.

For additional questions, contact:

LaShonda White
Senior Management Analyst
City Manager’s Office
City of Richmond

(510) 620-6828 Direct Line
(510) 620-6542 Fax
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