VIDEO: 2 communities fight over school’s plan to leave East Bay district

 

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY (KRON) — Two communities are debating over a divisive issue–whether to break away from the Mt. Diablo School District.

It is a hot button issue, with passionate opinions on both sides. The proposed Northgate Unified School District would include five schools serving 4,200 students.

On Tuesday night, Contra Costa County Education officials got a chance to hear from the public about the plan.

Those in favor of the proposed Northgate Unified School District, and those opposed to it, made their cases before the Contra Costa County Board of Education.

Earlier this year, a petition, with more than 6,000 signatures, was submitted to the board of education, requesting that a new school district, the Northgate Unified School District, be carved from the existing Mt. Diablo School District.

Mt. Diablo is made up of 56 schools, serving more than 32,000 students. It covers a large portion of the East Bay, stretching from Martinez to Walnut Creek–and also from Pleasant Hill to Clayton.

The proposed Northgate District would separate away the 4,200 students at Northgate High School, Foothill Middle School, and three elementary schools.

Supporters of the plan say that they are unhappy with the way Mt. Diablo is run.

“We have stayed for 40 years and tried to make it better, and it’s too big,” NUSD supporter Linda Loza said. “Mt. Diablo does not address the needs of our community.”

The Mt. Diablo School District Administration, including superintendent Nellie Meyers, strongly opposes the plan.

“We believe our students will not be served as well if five schools separate off from our district,” Meyers said. “We believe we can provide more programs, more support for less funding.”

The proposal has generated passionate feelings on both sides. Some opponents of the plan have accused organizers of wanting to create an affluent new school district.

And it is something that supporters of the plan flatly deny.

“None of that is true,” Loza said. “It’s nothing about segregation. We are following the district boundaries, the boundaries that Mt. Diablo set.”

Tuesday’s meeting before the county was only a public hearing. The proposal has a long road to travel before becoming a reality.

If the county approves the plan, it would have to get the blessing of state education officials and then be approved by voters.

Now to accommodate everyone who wants to speak on this issue, this public hearing will actually be continued Wednesday evening.

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