Madera Sixth Grade

WCCUSD School Board Meeting
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
DeJean Middle School / 6:30pm

Dear all,

Next Wednesday’s school board agenda has a sixth grade at Madera included as a discussion topic. This is very exciting- along with Dr. Harter’s visit to Madera later in November, there is focus and interest on this issue now that gives us a unique opportunity to make this happen– now is our time! The board intends to make a decision about this on January 5, 2011. Parents at Madera have lobbied for this for many years– if it doesn’t happen this time, it won’t be brought up again for many years to come- we need to advocate for this change NOW to demonstrate to the board how important this is for our children and our school.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Email the board members individually or collectively to state your support for adding a sixth grade.
  • Come to the meeting next week, wear your Madera shirts, bring your children, and make “Madera K-6” signs to hold up. During the Public Comment section, speak up in favor of this (If you’re not sure about how to speak at a board meeting, ask me). Large crowds, kids in attendance, signs- the board really does notice this and it makes a difference. The meeting starts at 6:30, and they juggle the agenda items around. I would think that the Madera issue would be discussed by 8:00 or 8:30. If there are lots of kids at a meeting because of a certain topic, they’ll usually move that agenda item up so that it can be discussed sooner.
  • Come meet Dr. Harter when he visits Madera on Monday, November 29th.
  • Mark your calendars for January 5th when this will be a board action item- I’ll send more details as the date approaches.

Next Wednessday’s board meeting is at 6:30 pm, at DeJean Middle School, 3400 Macdonald in Richmond.

Below is the text from the board meeting agenda about the middle school issue. I’ve also copied board member contact information below that, and  I’ve also pasted in the Grade Six petition that we circulated and I read to the board last January. Now is our time– we have an opportunity now to shift Madera to a K-6 school- this will benefit our kids and those that follow. Please let the board know how you feel!

David Miller

AGENDA ITEM FOR NOVEMBER 17 SCHOOL BOARD MEETING

WCCUSD Board of Education
Meeting Agenda – November 17, 2010

G.2 Adding 6th Grade at Madera Elementary

Comment:
In February 2009, the Board approved changes to grade configurations for several schools as a result of the school closure plan. One consequence of that action was to leave only Ford Elementary in Richmond and Madera Elementary in El Cerrito with a K-5 configuration among all the elementary schools south of Hercules. In 2010, the Board approved, at the request of the Ford school staff, allowing Ford to add a 6th grade for 2010-11. During the public hearings about the temporary location of Portola Middle School in January of 2010, parents of Madera Elementary requested that Madera be allowed to add a 6th grade for the 2011-12 school year.

As a result of attendance area expansion in 2004 and an increasing number of out-of attendance area transfers into the school, Madera does not have space to add 6th grade. Madera currently has 60 students in fifth grade who are assigned into one fifth grade class and one fourth-fifth combination class. Based on enrollment in the lower grades, it is likely that the school will need space for two classes in order to house 6th graders at the school.

There are four options for addressing the request of the Madera parents:

  1. Continue Madera as a K-5 school and continue to offer 6th grade at Portola;
  2. Add relocatable classrooms to the Madera campus;
  3. Rescind the transfers of students who currently attend Madera but who live outside the attendance boundaries of that school; or,
  4. Re-draw the attendance boundaries similar to what the boundaries were before the Madera attendance area was expanded in 2004 to reduce the population of the school.

District staff has been preparing a cost/benefit analysis of each option but first needs to engage Madera parents in considering each option. District staff would then bring a recommendation for a Board decision on January 5, 2011.

Recommendation:
That the Board reviews but not act on the options for 6th grade at Madera

Fiscal Services:
Will depend on the option selected

SCHOOL BOARD CONTACT INFORMATION:

Madeline Kronenberg, 
President
811 Craft Avenue
El Cerrito CA  94530
(W) 510-334-9646
mkronen@aol.com

Antonio Medrano, Clerk
406 Linda Drive
San Pablo, CA 94806
(H) 510-223-0237
(F) 510-222-9465
amedrano3@sbcglobal.net

Audrey Miles
1108 Bissell Ave.
Richmond, CA 94801
(M) 510-307-4601
msaudreyjean@aol.com

Charles T. Ramsey
410 Sea View Drive
El Cerrito , CA 94530
(C) 510-682-5600 
(W) 510-986-0455
charamsey@comcast.net

Tony Thurmond
1108 Bissell Ave.
Richmond, CA 94801
(H) 510-223-4394
(C) 510-681-4127
tony@tonythurmond.com

MADERA GRADE SIX PETITION- PRESENTED WITH MORE THAN 200 SIGNATURES
We, the undersigned parents of Madera Elementary School students, strongly urge the West Contra Costa County Unified School District Board and administration to develop and implement plans to incorporate a sixth grade at Madera, and to convert Madera Elementary school from a K-5 school to a K-6 campus as soon as possible.

We strongly feel that this is the right thing for our student body and for the district, for the following reasons:

1. Madera is now the only remaining K-5 school in this part of the district, and the only school feeding their entire 6th grade population to Portola Middle School. This virtually eliminates the “melting pot” advantages of a middle school campus, and simply relocates Madera students intact to a different campus. We would prefer to keep Madera students at Madera for their entire K-6 education. It’s better educationally, socially, and for the strength of the Madera community.

2. With the uncertainty and reconstruction pending for Portola, Madera parents have chosen to leave WCCUSD for private school options after 5th grade. They tend to leave for at least three years, through the entire middle school years. This results in a dramatic loss of ADA funding for the district for these three years, and creates discontinuity when these students return to El Cerrito High School and the public school system.

3. The loss of this funding not only affects the district, but the PTA, which delivers critical support to our schools in these continuing times of budget crises. The Madera PTA provides more than $100,000 in direct funding for our school annually. By adding a sixth grade we can extend this support and keep parent contributions supporting public schools, not private.

4. A sixth grade could be added by temporarily installing two portable classrooms on the Madera lower playground. The retained ADA funding would more than pay for these additions. Adding these classrooms at Madera would reduce the footprint and classroom requirements at Portola, which would also produce some cost-saving offsets.

5. Madera’s student population has grown due to the closure of Castro, class size increases, the addition of a fourth incoming kindergarten class, and other factors. We strongly support keeping current transferees as part of the Madera community and not revoking any transfers. Over time, with modest reduction of transfers, some redistricting, and a return to three incoming Kindergarten classes, the future K-6 population of Madera could be contained within the permanent classrooms, and the portables could be removed.

6. A condition of the renovations completed at Madera was the removal of all temporary classrooms, but as a short-term solution related to the closure of Castro, the growth of Mira Vista as a K-8 school, and the reconstruction of Portola Middle School, we advocate for a temporary exception to this requirement.

The addition of a sixth grade should be done NOW– by the start of the 2010/2011 school year. We strongly urge the board and staff to implement these changes as soon as possible: this makes sense for the Madera community, is fiscally sound for the district, and will provide support to what we feel is one of the most successful schools in West Contra Costa County.