Oakland to open school closed in 2012

Oakland to open school closed in 2012

Originally published in the San Jose Mercury News
By Doug Oakleydoakley@bayareanewsgroup.com
POSTED: 03/15/2015 12:00:00 AM PDT0 COMMENTS
OAKLAND — Parents pushing the school district to reopen Santa Fe Elementary School on 54th Street got their collective foot in the door Wednesday night with a nod from the school board.

The board voted unanimously to reopen the school for two years starting in fall of 2016 to accommodate students displaced from Glenview Elementary School by a two-year seismic rebuild. In addition, the school district will allow students from the Santa Fe neighborhood to attend.

“We’re very happy,” said Megan Low, who lives across the street from Santa Fe with her 3-year-old son and is expecting a second child. “We think it’s a huge steppingstone for our goal, which is to have the school 100 percent dedicated to our community.”

Parents in the area want to reopen the school because their nearest options are over a mile away, and if they walk, they must cross busy streets to get there.

The board’s Wednesday night decision did not say whether the school will remain open permanently after Glenview is rebuilt and its students return there.

But Oakland schools spokesman Troy Flint said the district is leaning toward keeping it open to neighborhood families.

“While there was no decision on whether Santa Fe will remain open, the general tenor of the conversation of the board and the superintendent shows they are in favor of it,” Flint said. “I would say they are open to the idea.”

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While Glenview is closed for construction, the school district will offer busing for students in the Glenview neighborhood to Santa Fe, which is a distance of almost 5 miles.

“We are absolutely looking into busing, and it’s my full intention to make that available,” said schools Superintendent Antwan Wilson.

Santa Fe Elementary closed in 2012. At the time, there were about 400 school-age kids in the neighborhood, but only about 100 were choosing the school, which had an academic performance index score of 713 on a 200 to 1,000 scoring scale.

Administrators hope that opening the school to neighborhood students does not draw down attendance at three other nearby schools: Sankofa, Emerson and Hoover elementary schools. The school district will help those schools financially with marketing materials to sell themselves to area families to try to prevent that scenario from happening.

“This is a good opportunity for those schools to go through a self-examination process to decide what they want, and I’m glad we are going to do some promotion for them,” said school board member Jody London. “Emerson and Sankofa would benefit from the resources the superintendent and staff can bring to them.”

Low and other members of the Santa Fe Education Committee who say the neighborhood is teaming with new families that could fill up the school spoke about the need for a school in their neighborhood at Wednesday night’s board meeting.

“We have a lack of accessible public schools in our area,” Ben Brunetti said. “It’s a school desert, and the charter schools are either not appealing because they focus on a specialty or they have difficult lotteries to get in. I have five friends who moved to the neighborhood with kids under age 4.”

The committee envisions restarting Santa Fe with kindergarten through third-grade classes in 2018, then adding one grade each year.

Low is confident the neighborhood will have enough students to eventually fill up the school with classes from kindergarten through eighth grade.

“We want the school district to take a closer look at the baby boom happening in this area,” Low said. ‘When we talk to our community, a lot of people are saying they have moved in since 2012.”