As part of the ongoing review of a petition by Northgate Community Advocacy for our Public Schools (Northgate CAPS) and its proposed transfer of territory carving out five schools to form a new school district, the Mt. Diablo School District (MDUSD) is reiterating concerns that the territory for the proposed Northgate district includes two additional schools that are physically located within the proposed district’s boundary but have separate MDUSD attendance boundaries.
“The campuses of Oak Grove Middle School and Ygnacio Valley High School are clearly situated within the proposed territory for a Northgate Unified School District (NUSD) and this raises a number of issues which the Northgate CAPS organization has not addressed,” said Dr. Nellie Meyer, Superintendent of Mt. Diablo Unified.
“Last month, we mentioned in our preliminary response our concerns that the proposal, which would include Northgate High School, Foothill Middle School, and Bancroft, Valle Verde, and Walnut Acres elementary schools, creates an “island effect” by including the Oak Grove and Ygnacio Valley school facilities but not their attendance boundaries,” said Meyer. “The state’s education code is very clear on this: a school district shall not be formed or reorganized to include territory which is separated from other portions of one or more other school districts. This proposed secession prompts a number of questions.” (Reference: CA Education Code 35543)
“If CAPS’ intention is to include Oak Grove Middle and Ygnacio Valley High School in their territory, is it also their intention to retain those students? Or will these students – approximately 2,000 students – be displaced?” questioned Meyer. “What happens to Oak Grove and YV’s feeder schools? If the CAPS proposal was constructed knowing about these profound school facility and displacement issues, why were there no meetings held with the Oak Grove Middle School and Ygnacio Valley High School communities?”
At the previous public hearings conducted by the Contra Costa County Board of Education in its capacity as the County Committee on School District Reorganization, public testimony was provided to make clear the proposed NUSD boundaries would also include attendance areas for Highlands Elementary, impacting 53% of that school’s current student body and prompting associated staff reductions and program changes or losses.
According to MDUSD, the petition fails to substantially meet many of the legal requirements by which such petitions may be considered for approval. The District unequivocally opposes the petition for several key reasons, including the following:
- The proposed division results in a new school district that is far more racially and socioeconomically segregated, depriving students in both districts of an integrated educational experience.
- The proposed division results in an inequitable distribution of assets and assessed property values.
- The proposed division separates communities and would result in increased negative traffic impacts community-wide.
- The proposed division would reduce the size of both districts, resulting in the disruptive shuffling of teaching and staff assignments, including likely necessitating layoffs and the elimination of key District programs.
- The proposed division has a negative impact on both potential districts’ financial health and educational programs.
- The District has made great strides over the last few years that are now paying dividends in student achievement, teacher recruitment and retention, and the provision of innovative educational programs and opportunities for every student throughout the District. This petition would derail this progress and negatively impact the District’s students, families, teachers and staff.
The County Committee will have the remainder of the summer to review the Northgate CAPS petition to determine whether it meets the state’s required criteria. Additional hearings – potential leading to a recommendation to approve or disapprove the petition – are expected to take place in early fall.
For more information please see the following:
- Mt. Diablo Unified School District Preliminary Response in Opposition to Northgate CAPS Petition
- Video – MDUSD Presentation to the Contra Costa County Committee on School District Reorganization (May 2)
- Mt. Diablo Unified Board Resolution in Opposition of the District Reorganization of the Northgate Area (Jan 23)
California Education Code
An “action to reorganize districts” means either of the following:
· An action to form a new school district, which is accomplished through any of, or any combination of, the following:
o Dissolving two or more existing school districts of the same kind and forming one or more new school districts of that same kind from the entire territory of the original districts.
o Forming one or more new school districts of the same kind from all or parts of one or more existing school districts of that same kind.
o Unifying school districts, including the consolidation of all or part of one or more high school districts with all or part of one or more component school districts into one or more new unified school districts.
o Deunifying a school district, including the conversion of all or part of a unified school district into one or more new high school districts, each with two or more new component districts.
· An action to transfer territory, including the transfer of all or part of an existing school district to another existing school district.
(a) Within 120 days of the commencement of the first public hearing on the petition, the county committee shall recommend approval or disapproval of a petition to form one or more new districts or for the division of the entire territory of a school district into two or more new or acquiring districts, as the petition may be augmented, or shall approve or disapprove a petition for the transfer of territory, as the petition may be augmented.
On or after January 1, 1981, a school district shall not be formed or reorganized to include territory which is separated from other portions of the territory of the district by the territory of one or more other school districts.