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Making Room for Sixth Graders at Madera

Portable classrooms, needed to add the sixth grade, arrived at Madera Elementary School Thursday.

There are a few things carried to schools that are heavier than the children’s backpacks, as evidenced by the trucks arriving at on Thursday.

Madera is getting two portable classrooms to accommodate the when school resumes at the end of August. Madera parents lobbied heavily for the addition of sixth grade. Previously, the school housed only kindergarten through fifth graders, one of the last in the West Contra Costa Unified School District to do so.

The change removes the last of the sixth graders from Portola Middle School, leaving it with only seventh and eighth grade when the school year begins. Portola is currently housed entirely in portable classrooms, downhill from the vacant old classrooms, until a . The district is unable to rebuild on the old Portola site because of the possibility that a major earthquake could trigger a landslide.

Marty July 22, 2011 at 06:18 PM
This article omits two key issues: 1) Will a 6th grade be permanent at Madera, or just until the new middle schoool is built? If permanent, how and when will the portables be replaced? 2) Why is a new $60 million middle school for 400 or so Portola 7th and 8th graders needed, especially considering the shuttered Adams school (two miles away) could be rehabilitated, included seismic upgrades, for a fraction of that cost, by WCCUSD's own estimates?
Betty Buginas July 22, 2011 at 10:31 PM
The board did not set a time limit on the sixth grade. There was nothing in the discussions to indicate it is a temporary move.
Michael O'Connor July 22, 2011 at 10:45 PM
A new middle school is not needed in El Cerrito. When the new El Cerrito School District opens in a year, El Cerrito High School will have seventh through twelfth graders, just like it did when it opened in 1941. At least, I hope so.
Karl A. July 24, 2011 at 01:16 AM
More of a sign that the WCCUSD preoccupation with a "middle school" in EL Cerrito, or anywhere is arcane and not in keeping with the fact the public and private K-8 schools are more common and thrive. One need look no farther than the private K-8 schools of Windrush and Prospect Sierra to see how far the WCCUSD's preoccupation with the a new Portola middle school, a school it cannot fully enroll nor support and maintain, has been a Board of Trustee trophy project since its inception over five years ago.
EC Mom July 24, 2011 at 04:31 AM
@Michael O'Connor "When the new El Cerrito School District opens in a year..." What are you talking about?! I am active in the PTA and have not heard one word about this. Is this a pipe dream? A movement (let me know--I may want to join)? FYI, during the last budget downturn (early '90s), EC/Kensington parents unsuccessfully attempted to secede from WCCUSD. Do you honestly think that WCCUSD will relinquish the newly-built EC High to the city? Or that the city could afford to take it over? Do you have any real information, or is this merely a wish?
Todd Groves July 24, 2011 at 05:26 PM
I don't see how El Cerrito can thrive without a well-functioning regional school system. Every kid deserves a good start. If we can't render this district into a higher performing one, what hope do we have at solving larger social issues? Our kids are bright and capable. We need practices that bring out the best from them, eliciting their full potentials. WCCUSD has many great teachers, and our new administrators are brimming with energy and vision. WCCUSD as a whole can make massive, rapid improvements in achievement if we can align everyone to a common purpose. I've been kicking this district like a bad vending machine for a long time. Admittedly, it's counterproductive and discourages open dialogue. I just don't understand why we can't do better. We all should try to tone down the anger level, but it's hard when you feel your kids are being denied that which they need. I'm going to try to avoid amplifying my grievances with WCCUSD and take a more universal view. The overwhelming majority of folks I meet in context of schools are caring and concerned, but have different perspectives. It's too easy to turn these differences into divisions. Our kids are great. Think what they can learn if we can demonstrate effective problem-solving of complicated issues.
Marty July 24, 2011 at 06:15 PM
In 1941 they didn't need SROs. They probably had a vice-principal with a buzz cut who was a former Marine DI. After a "counseling session" with him, and worse from the parents when they got home, the troublemakers changed their ways, or were shown the door.

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