Alameda school board closes Bay Farm Middle School over parental pleas

The city of Alameda will lose one of its middle schools. 

The school board on Tuesday night voted to close Bay Farm Middle School despite pleas and frustration from parents and families. 

The school board moved very quickly with its decision. 

It was not even a month ago - Jan. 10 - that they announced that the Alameda Unified School District would consider a plan to phase-out Bay Farm. 

The closure vote means that starting next year, the middle school will not accept any incoming 6th graders.

Bay Farm Middle School is the smallest in the district and has smaller class sizes; 23 students vs. 30 or 32 per class.

But the school district says it's too expensive to fund a smaller school, and that enrollment at Bay Farm - and across the district - has declined in recent years and that they need to focus financial resources, elsewhere.

"We are projecting some notable declining lower enrollment in the elementary and middle schools," Supt. Pasquale Scuderi said at the meeting. "On the idea of contracting middle school programs, rather than expanding them."

Some community members, however, pushed back. 

"There is a rupture of trust happening within our AUSD community," said Daria Mehra, who called in to the board. "I do encourage the board to pause and slow down this decision. School closures are very difficult, program closures are very difficult."

She added: "The process of school closure recommended by the state department, suggests a timeline of six months, before the board votes, which includes time for a specially-formed committee to do financial analysis and environmental analysis. The majority of these steps have not been followed."

Parents, students and family members say this plan to phase out this middle school was abrupt and that there was no communication with parents about it.

Earlier this month, Scuderi apologized for that lack of communication, saying that while the district and board announced the decision to do this just last month - they'd been discussing the possibility internally for several years.