WCCUSD trustee opposes vote to close Manzanita Middle School

WCCUSD to hold meeting on fate of Manzanita Middle School Charter
Manzanita Charter School is located at St. Luke's Methodist Church 461 33rd St. (Photo credit: Mike Kinney)

Tonight at 6:30 p.m., the WCCUSD Board of Education is set to meet to adopt “findings of facts” regarding the charter petition renewal of Manzanita Charter School. A public hearing for the renewal was held on April 1, and the Board decided 4-1 to not renew the petition on April 22. Our story on the issue here.

By Consuelo Lara, West Contra Costa Unified School District Trustee

West Contra Costa Unified School District Board Trustees Cuevas, Stephanie Hernandez-Jarvis, Tom Panas and Mister Phillips took action to not approve the renewal petition of Manzanita Charter Middle School. Their vote to close this school was taken against district staff recommendation, and against legal standards. No questions were asked of the principal, Chantell Caldwell, and there were no requests for more information from district staff about their concerns. This took place on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, at the regularly held Board meeting on Zoom at 6:30 pm. 

Manzanita Charter Middle School is a small (125 students) school located on the corner of 33rd Street and Barrett in Richmond, where they lease space from St. Luke’s Methodist Church.  It is a public cooperative charter school serving grades 6 thru 8.  It is a parent co-operative with a governing board of parents who are elected by parents. They have a strong commitment to provide a safe, secure and nurturing environment. Founded in 2000, it became a California Distinguished School in 2005, a California Certified Charter School in 2007, and was voted Best Public Charter School in Contra Costa County in 2012.

This is from their Facebook Page of March 15, 2018:  A Small School for 6th, 7th & 8th Graders in Richmond.  Manzanita Charter Middle School was established in 2000 by a small group of local parents seeking to create an alternative to the larger district middle schools. Manzy was the first charter middle school to be approved by West Contra Costa Unified School District.  The school opened with one combined class of 6th & 7th graders. It now offers two classes in each grade, 6th-8th.  Manzanita offers core academic curriculum in English Language Arts, Mathematics, History, and Science, plus Technology, Art, PE, Music, Foreign Languages and Sports. Regular student Study Trips support the curriculum. Technology in the classroom includes regular use of smart boards and Chromebooks and additional project-based technology such as Raspberry Pi and robotics.

There will be a Special WCCUSD School Board Meeting soon to discuss and take action on this matter.  Please let your voice be heard. Call or email Board Trustees on this issue.