Contra Costa Co. school board votes no on creating controversial district

PLEASANT HILL (Amber Lee and BCN)-- The Contra Costa County Board of Education on Tuesday voted down approving a new, controversial new school district in the county.

The Contra Costa County Board of Education voted 3-2 not to recommend the formation of the Northgate Unified School District. It will now go to the state Board of Education for a decision.   It could take the state up to two years or more to take up the matter and make a decision.  If it votes no, it ends there.

A yes vote would put it before voters. 

The board, sitting as the County Committee on School District Organization, met to consider whether to split off from part of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District.

The new district would have called the Northgate Unified School District. Northgate CAPS members said that the current curriculum in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District is chosen without regard to Northgate students.

Northgate CAPS officials said because the district is large, district officials are unable to execute strategies to improve teaching and learning and locals schools lack support.

About 32,000 students are served by the Mt. Diablo Unified School District.

A new district would have included Northgate High School, Foothill Middle School and Bancroft, Valle Verde and Walnut Acres elementary schools.

It would have had about 3,800 students and include neighborhoods in Concord and Walnut Creek.

Northgate CAPS officials also said a new district would have allowed educators to be more responsive to the individual needs of each student.

But opponents said that the new district would be made up of mostly white, wealthy students.

An attorney for the Mt. Diablo Unified School District said that while the district's student body consists of about 40 percent white students, the new district would be about 65 percent white.

"That's a huge problem," attorney David Soldani said. "Especially in our time."

Soldani said that a number of efforts are underway across the nation to create smaller, wealthy, less diverse school districts.

"It's kind of a nationwide epidemic," he said.  

A report by a consultant for the Mt. Diablo Unified School District said that the creation of the Northgate Unified School District would not meet the nine criteria required to do so by state law.

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