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)
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.
Saidah Said, Fairmont Parent and Richmond Resident Since 2005
Latest figures of enrollment:
http://www.wccusd.net/cms/lib03/CA01001 ... Packet.pdf