Sep 8, 2016
14 comments

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.

Comments

  1. Thanks to the RPA, UTR, SEIU Unions and angry uneducated East Richmond Heights residents for this. Your ignorance and self-interests is ruining the City of Pride and Purpose. This move would of benefited Richmond and most importantly the children.

    Richmond Resident "9" | Sep 8th, 2016
  2. I’m more than OK with this decision. Caliber’s owners have less than altruistic motivations behind their business. I would argue that charter school expansion would do more harm to the City of Pride and Purpose.

    Sam | Sep 8th, 2016
  3. While I am personally somewhat ambivalent on this issue, I do not hesitate to urge the parents of the some 800 children who would have liked to attend this school to remember this on election day, and deny the RPA a majority on the city council. A RPA majority will spell disaster for Richmond and only more of the same extremist measures we have already seen the last several years.

    Richmond Resident | Sep 8th, 2016
  4. The only thing that the people, unions, etc. Has denied is the right to choose where parents send their children. For those who say they don’t like businesses supporting charter schools, I’d rather them investing in their future work force than investing in prisons. Now for the sale of Adams, what sale caliber was not buying the site, they were let’s say leasing the site. I am not against District Schools because there are some phenomenal teachers. But The district is broken Charter Schools are the answer. Time for district to jump on board with what is working.

    Richmond Resident | Sep 8th, 2016
  5. Time will tell how this plays out I suppose. Adams like Mira Vista sits upon the Hayward Fault but Adams particular multilevel construction leads me to suspect a complete teardown would be more economical and/or long term beneficial than an effective retrofit. But I am no engineer. Either way, looks like for the time being it will continue to gather dust and vandals. That certainly doesn’t serve the City of the Future well either.

    Richmond Resident | Sep 8th, 2016
  6. Thank you WCCUSD Board for this vote! Let’s keep private schools off our public land. And yes, charter schools way more private than public. Let Beller go back to screwing people on Wall Street.

    Sandra Davenport | Sep 8th, 2016
  7. Thank you school board!

    Sandra Davenport | Sep 8th, 2016
  8. To the disappointed proponents of a charter school at the Adams Middle School site, I’m sorry this didn’t work out for you. That being said, now might be a good time for some introspection. There were many reasons why this plan was flawed, but your lack of enthusiasm was not one of them. I hope you can find a more suitable location for a school. I hope you can find a place that doesn’t sit atop a fault line. I hope you can find a place that isn’t already surrounded by schools. I hope you can get past the notion that charter schools are a big business and not necessarily the savior you envision them to be. I hope you can understand the community’s outrage of the proposed $60,000 price tag. I hope you can understand that the board voted against this project because it was the right thing to do.

    Sam | Sep 8th, 2016
  9. This is asinine. WCCUSD is an utterly disfunctional district, with unbelievable inequities.
    WCCUSD could advise every other school district in the country on how to squander resources, time, money, and talent. Shame on WCCUSD for allowing these inequities. With take ALL funds from ALL schools in WCCUSD (including parent funding!!) and distribute them throughout ALL WCCUSD schools, start a busing system as in BUSD, mix up ALL schools, provide meaningful differentiated instruction, including early gifted education, or allow charter schools such as Caliber to fill these shoes. It is incredibly unfair to only allow true choice to wealthy, privileged families.

    Richmond Resident | Sep 8th, 2016
  10. This is asinine. WCCUSD is an utterly disfunctional district, with unbelievable inequities.
    WCCUSD could advise every other school district in the country on how to squander resources, time, money, and talent. Shame on WCCUSD for allowing these inequities. To fix itself, WCCUSD should take ALL funds from ALL schools in WCCUSD (including parent funding!!) and distribute them throughout ALL WCCUSD schools, start a busing system as in BUSD, mix up ALL schools, provide meaningful differentiated instruction, including early gifted education, or allow charter schools such as Caliber to fill these shoes. It is incredibly unfair to only allow true choice to wealthy, privileged families.
    Shocking how the supposedly open-minded, ‘liberal’ residents of the area did not wish to have poor Latino children in their neighborhood!! If they think the current blacktop site behind Kennedy is appropriate, fine — let’s switch Mira Vista for the current Caiber site and call it a day. Time to put your money where your mouth is!!!

    Richmond Resident | Sep 8th, 2016
  11. Whatever your opinion on charter schools, then$60,000 sale price was way too low–in effect it was a giveaway of a public asset to private hands. Thanks to the neighborhood leaders of East Richmond Heights, the RPA and the WCCUSD board, who listened to the concerns of the community.

    Debbie Bayer | Sep 8th, 2016
  12. I appreciate the boards vote, they made the right decision. There were many things wrong with this proposal, starting the $60,000 price – virtually giving away our public property to Ron Beller, a wall street venture capitalist who has no connection to Richmond or our community.

    East Richmond Heights Resident | Sep 8th, 2016
  13. Isn’t it legal for the district to rent the site out to charter schools and thereby comply with the law? Wouldn’t that be the way to go instead? Somebody school me please….

    Richmond Resident | Sep 8th, 2016
  14. The problem with the RPA, WCCUSD, and others who I doubt have any children in the inadequate Richmond school system is, they don’t listen. Charters would not be increasing in numbers if others were doing their jobs. Once apond a time we had great schools in Richmond, until the RPA appeared on the seen (with Gayle Mclaughin as their leader). Since that time everything they (RPA) have touched has turned to sh#!!## city wide, which unfortunately will not change until, we the people , get them out of office. So no matter what these people do or don’t do, alternative opportunities will flourish (eg. Charters and home schooling etc.) as the inadequate public school system populations decline.

    Great job RPA you have srewed the residents of Richmond once again. What is your destructive count now? Let’s look back: the casino project, point molated redevelopment, LBNL, Berkeley global campus, and now Caliber. When will parents, property owners, business owners and all residents of this Richmond finally be feed up and vote the incompetent RPA out of RIchmond? I hope we start in Novembe, so Richmond can get on a positive and productive track, which will not happen with the RPA in charge.

    tired of the incompetence | Sep 8th, 2016

About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.