Caliber Schools will not be moving into the Adams Middle School campus in East Richmond Heights, after the school district’s board on Wednesday decided against moving forward with the sale of the long-vacant property to the local public charter school.
In recent months, Caliber Schools, which runs nonprofit public charter schools in Richmond and Vallejo, had offered to purchase the site at 5000 Patterson Circle for about $60,000, well below market value. It also offered to foot the bill to rebuild a K-8 campus for its Beta Academy, which currently operates in portable classrooms near Kennedy High.
Beta Academy is outgrowing the temporary classrooms, and in addition to the school’s expansion, Caliber recently filed a charter petition with the district seeking to open a high school in 2017.
In a statement Thursday, Ron Beller and Jennifer Moses, co-founders of Caliber Schools, said they were “deeply disappointed” by the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) Board of Education’s decision on Wednesday to nix the Adams sale.
“Caliber presented a sound proposal to revitalize an abandoned school site that has sat vacant for nearly a decade,” they said. “It would have given our students access to the modern school facilities they deserve at no cost to taxpayers. We are reviewing our options to determine next steps. However, the District has a legal obligation to provide our students with a safe, learning environment. And we will hold the District accountable to live up to that obligation.”
In its statement Wednesday, WCCUSD said it understands that it still must find a longterm solution for Caliber Schools under Prop. 39, which requires school districts to supply its charter school students with facilities that are “reasonably equivalent” to those used by non-charter students.
“We look forward to reaching out to Caliber and finding a solution that works for both organizations,” the district said.
The Adams school property was closed in 2009 due to seismic concerns and has since attracted vandals and arsonists.
Its proposed sale to Caliber Schools drew fierce opposition from the teachers union, parents and some city officials. Opponents complain that charter schools are draining resources from traditional public schools and that the proposed sales price of the property was far too low.