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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

School Board Vote: Elementary School Will Close Forever

Concerned Parents Say:
School Board Kills The Best Thing
Going At Emery Unified

In a final unanimous blow, the Emery School Board of Trustees voted to forever shutter Anna Yates Elementary School Monday night, demonstrably, the best thing happening here at the Emery Unified School District.  The clock is now ticking for Anna Yates, the gem of Emery Unified; as the doors will close on the last child in the spring of 2015 when students will be shuttled over to the high school site where the Center of Community Life on San Pablo Avenue is now being constructed.

Some parents have lamented the closing of Anna Yates comes at a time of great and building academic synergy at the school; educators internally and external parental forces have conjoined to dramatically drive up academic achievement over the last few years.  The results have been reflected in the rising test scores; the Academic Performance Index (API) indicates Anna Yates has met and exceeded all the academic goals for this year, moving from an API score of 780 last year to 815 this year eclipsing the statewide API average of 788.  This year's dramatic jump comes following rising scores for the last five years at the school.

Emery High School, also known as Emery Secondary School on the other hand remains mired in a morass of low morale and low achievement, well below State averages.  The school has not met any of the District or State academic goals for this year.  The API scores at the high school shows an actual decline from 636 last year to 635 this year.
This decline has happened amid great pronouncements to the contrary from the District about rising academic achievement at the secondary school over the last couple of years.  Teachers there have complained about low morale and a recalcitrant administration profiled in a follow up audit by the National Center for Urban School Transformation earlier in the year.  The report condemned the District for its poor performance at Emery Secondary School.

Anna Yates Elementary School was recently
remodeled at a cost of $9 million.
The Board voted to close the elementary school Monday  despite a vocal opposition group of some 70 letter signers who pleaded to be allowed to make their case for saving the school last summer.  Board members, one by one told the  dissenters the School District had already decided about closing the school, a charge confirmed by Schools Superintendent Debbra Lindo last Saturday at a community meeting.  Ms Lindo contends the District had decided to close Anna Yates more than ten years ago despite assurances made by the former Superintendent and Board President Josh Simon in 2010 that the citizens would be allowed to decide that in the design phase meetings for the Center of Community Life.
It was noted at the time that Measure J, the plebiscite that citizens supported in 2010 to sell the school bonds necessary to build the new school, made no mention of closing Anna Yates Elementary School, giving ammunition to those who contend that citizens and parents should have been permitted to weigh in on the wisdom of closing the school.

Concerned parents have complained as the elementary school is closed and a new facility is built co-located with the high school, the management staff, critical to the rising test scores at the elementary school, will be dramatically reduced.  District officials have confirmed this, citing cost savings from such a reduction as a major reason to close Anna Yates.  The closure will leave one large school with one management culture, and likely worse academic outcomes looming for Kindergarten through 6th grade children, parents say.


  1. I don't see why it makes a difference when it was decided to close the school. Ten years ago, two weeks ago, who cares? The school is closing, you need to accept that. Also, why do you assume that Anna Yates will get worse instead of the high school getting better? Having said what I said about closing AY school, it does seem like a mistake. It seems like a nice little school, shame to see it go.

    1. Good questions, both. First, the problem is not when it was decided to close the school, rather the manner in which it was decided. This should have been a decision for the people of Emeryville, not the School District. That's what we were promised, that's what should have happened.
      The quality of education for Emery kids, K-6 could get better or worse following the move to the high school. The chances that it will get worse are far more likely given that the high school culture is likely to be the dominant one. Still, anything can happen. Now we'll all see, won't we?