Good News for NUSD!
The consultant hired by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) to evaluate the proposal for a new community-based Northgate Unified School District (NUSD) has issued its report, which found that the proposal met seven of the Nine Criteria laid out by the State for creating a new school district that is separate from Mt. Diablo USD (MDUSD). The consultant did NOT agree with critics who have repeatedly claimed, with no support, that NUSD would promote segregation, would not be financially viable, would not offer sound educational programs (including special education), or that NUSD would have a harmful financial effect on MDUSD. None of those charges, repeated so often by the district and MDEA, were given any credence by the CCCOE consultant.
Met – Criterion Number 1: Adequate Number of Pupils
Met – Criterion Number 2: Community Identity
Not met – Criterion Number 3: Equitable Division of Property/Facilities
Met – Criterion Number 4: Discrimination/Segregation
Met – Criterion Number 5: No Substantial Increase in State Costs
Met – Criterion Number 6: Sound Educational Program
Not met – Criterion Number 7: No Substantial Increase in School Facilities Costs
Met – Criterion Number 8: Increased Property Values
Met – Criterion Number 9: Effect on Fiscal Status and Management
So why did the NUSD proposal not meet Criterion 3, which calls only for equitable distribution of property, when the proposal asked only for the separation of the five existing Northgate-area schools (Valle Verde Elementary, Walnut Acres Elementary, Bancroft Elementary, Foothills Middle School, and Northgate High School) that are already in the Northgate area?
Why did the NUSD proposal not meet Criterion 7, which seeks to avoid district reorganizations that require new facilities, when the five Northgate-area schools are already built and servicing Northgate students, and MDUSD says it is faced with declining enrollment in its other schools? Why would any new facilities be necessary for either district?
Here’s why: because after our petition and report were submitted, MDUSD was able to convince the CCCOE that Oak Grove Middle School (OGMS) and Ygnacio Valley High School (YVHS) were actually part of the proposed NUSD district, because MDUSD views them as part of the Bancroft Elementary “attendance area” referred to in our petition and report, even though no one lives there! So the consultant was directed to include OGMS and YVHS as if they were part of the proposal for NUSD, even though:
the NCAPS map used during the campaign and submitted to the CCCOE consistently showed those schools as lying outside the NUSD boundary;
the NCAPS report never referred to those schools in describing the proposed operations of NUSD;
the directions to the consultant meant that those schools’ respective attendance areas were largely excluded from the analysis, meaning they were treated as extra empty campuses in NUSD that would have no students; and
MDUSD definitely needs those campuses to serve existing students and would have to spend $200 million or more to replace them, even as the existing campuses sat empty, across the street from MDUSD.
Clearly, this was an absurd way to view our proposal. Moreover, it is obvious reading the consultant’s report that if MDUSD had not convinced CCCOE to reinterpret the meaning of our petition, and giving NUSD two schools that it didn’t need, the proposal for NUSD would have met ALL Nine Criteria. We believe that after our petition was submitted and it began to dawn on the MDUSD leadership that we might have a strong proposal, that they decided to resort to this desperate measure, in hopes of sabotaging the consultant’s conclusion.
We think it was a ridiculous maneuver that will waste the public’s time and money to sort out. Unfortunately, it reflects a consistent history of MDUSD refusing to engage on the merits of the petition, and instead, focusing on fake issues like “segregation”, “financial viability” — and now “extra schools” — that were never seriously in question.
We are going to encourage the County Committee on District Reorganization, which did not hire the consulting firm or provide instructions to them, to reject this last-minute ploy by MDUSD and to consider the consultant’s positive conclusions in light of the proposal that we submitted, not as it was re-interpreted by the staff at CCCOE.