For those wondering when the new Portola Middle School in El Cerrito will be built, West Contra Costa schools Superintendent Bruce Harter and other district officials will describe the plans at a community meeting today, Saturday.
The 3 p.m. meeting will be held at the Castro Clubhouse, 1420 Norvell St., next to old Castro Elementary School site where the new Portola is to be built.
Since 2010, Portola classes have been held in temporary buildings on Moeser Lane pending construction of the new campus. The buildings of Portola’s 62-year-old former home at Navellier Street and Moeser Lane were gradually demolished this summer and fall.
The decision to relocate Portola began several years ago when the State Architect’s office declared the old Portola buildings unsafe in a major earthquake. The West Contra Costa Unified School District decided that the slope under the buildings was too unstable for the structures to made seismically safe, and the students were moved to temporary buildings placed on lower, flat terrain on the western edge of the old campus.
The district first settled on putting Portola at Fairmont Elementary School in El Cerrito, a decision that aroused substantial community opposition. Further study and community debate followed, and the board voted 3-2 on Dec. 10, 2008 to rebuild it on the Castro site.
A group of neighbors, parents and other supporters of Castro filed suit on Jan. 12, 2009, saying the board failed to meet CEQA requirements, including an adequate review of alternatives, and to follow correct procedures. That suit lost in Contra Costa County Superior Court, was appealed, and on Aug. 2 this year was rejected again by the state Court of Appeal, clearing the way for the construction to begin.