Walnut Creek City Council Endorses Election Framework in Effort to Form Northgate School District

April 20, 2017 8:00 am · 33 comments

The Walnut Creek City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to endorse an election framework in the effort to create a new school district out of the existing Mt. Diablo Unified School District.

The election will only be held if the separation of the proposed Northgate district from the Mt. Diablo district is allowed to move forward by county and state education officials.

The resolution approved by the city council endorses the idea that any such election should be held within the boundaries of the proposed district rather than within the existing district’s boundaries, according to
Walnut Creek Mayor Rich Carlston.

“I think that the voters within that (proposed) district are very able to make that decision as to what’s best for their kids,” Carlston said.

That’s a sentiment echoed by members of Northgate Community Advocacy for Our Public Schools, the group working to create the new district and which brought the resolution to the council for its consideration.

“I would say that the reason to have the vote in the new district boundaries is that it is the area affected by this move, and if it was extended (to the entire Mt. Diablo district) it would diminish the voice of the people who are affected,” said Linda Loza, president of the Northgate
CAPS board of directors.

The city council’s decision is an important milestone for those advocating for a new district, despite the fact that the city has no authority over the school district and won’t make the ultimate decision about how an election, if one is needed, is structured.

“To have the support that we got from the city council last night helped level the playing field a little bit,” Loza said. “It said that they hear us.”

The proposal to create the new district would remove five schools from the Mt. Diablo district — Northgate High School, Foothill Middle School and Bancroft, Valle Verde and Walnut Acres elementary schools — and includes portions of Walnut Creek and Concord.

It would also allow voters within the new district to select its own school board, which would run the smaller district and be more accountable to the will of local parents, according to supporters.

“There is a lack of leadership and governance at the district level. There is a long-standing culture of that,” Loza said. “There is a lack of communication and lack of accountability and lack of fiscal management.”

Mt. Diablo officials, as well as the Mt. Diablo Education Association, are strongly opposed to the effort to carve five schools and roughly 4,500 students out of the existing district and believe any vote to do so should include all of the district’s existing voters.

“We are disappointed and surprised that the council essentially voted to suppress the voice of our local citizens,” said Superintendent Nellie Meyer. “We do not believe the criterion are met to form a new school district, and there were clear examples last night detailing the devastating impact such a separation would pose to students, families, and teachers.”

Last year, Northgate CAPS delivered 6,700 signatures from voters within the proposed district to the Contra Costa County Office of Education, which has scheduled a hearing for May 2 and 3.

The Office of Education will forward its recommendations to the State Board of Education, which will determine if the proposal should move forward to an election.

GRX April 20, 2017 at 10:15 AM

Self determination. Grassroots effort. Love it.

Good luck… MDUSD will not want to let go of the State’s per student funding who actually attend school (and score well!).


Anon April 20, 2017 at 10:24 AM

Great another Clayton Valley School in the makings. They don’t want the poor kids going to their rich school

JazzMan April 20, 2017 at 10:26 AM

Good luck with that. They’ll find out REAL fast the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Rollo Tomasi April 20, 2017 at 11:23 AM


Oh the horror…

MoJo April 20, 2017 at 11:26 AM

The Council approved the idea that the vote should take place within the boundaries of the newly proposed district because that’s whose kids are affected? What about the Pine Hollow and Diablo View middle school kids? Are they not affected as well since the kids from these 2 schools now have a choice of any high school in the district including Northgate? Doesn’t matter though. The County and State will never approve this and the teachers union will use all methods at their disposal to fight it as well. If it ends up in the courts then the liberal judges will not look favorably upon this as it reeks of elitism and racism. Might as well try to build a wall around your schools. Guess the Walnut Creeksters are just gonna have to suck it up and suffer through the quagmire that is MDUSD like the rest of us.

Silva April 20, 2017 at 11:52 AM

Wouldn’t they need to buy the property from MDUSD?

FromClayton April 20, 2017 at 12:01 PM

I don’t get it. Here you have a group of people trying to release themselves from a ‘quagmire’ of a behemoth school district rife with budgetary and governmental problems. Why are they’re instantly vilified and smeared as racists, elitists and snobs? Why isn’t that the people in this community don’t view this as a grassroots can-do situation where people have had enough of many bad situations and want only the best possible outcomes for their children? It’s not elitist, nor racist, nor classist. It’s a small community of people refusing to be boiling frogs in the inevitable, bad tasting MDUSD stew.

Anon April 20, 2017 at 12:03 PM

Funny how the 4 people at the meeting Tuesday night representing the desire to create the new district don’t even have kids at the impacted schools. They have the best interest in the children, my ass.

They care nothing about the children and the WC City Council is no better.

Aob April 20, 2017 at 12:16 PM

Walnut Creek will only get more Uppity & and fart sniffy with their children segregated from the rest of the area, but I already avoid Walnut Creek because they seem to think they are so high class.

Coggins Square April 20, 2017 at 12:16 PM

I said this before, and will say it again. The families in Eastern Walnut Creek in the Northgate High feeder pattern, while having their schools managed by the very large and demographically diverse MDUSD, should be grateful that they have all those schools, particularly Northgate High serving their high socioeconomic area, and would definitely not be happy with Ygnacio Valley High School as their assigned high school the way it was before Northgate was built to relieve severe overcrowding at YVHS in the early 1970s. Because as I mentioned in the last article, back in the 1960s and early 1970s, YVHS, was considered Central Contra Costa County’s best high school, mostly because about half of its students lived in the high income sector of Walnut Creek, which is now served by Northgate. Back in those days, the kids and families of East Walnut Creek did not mind at all going to the same high school as kids from the many middle class kids from South Concord, or even the lower income families from the Monument Blvd. area. Northgate was built in the early 1970s, because YVHS was evenly overcrowded, but I actually found out that building Northgate might have actually been a mistake, because a few years after Northgate opened up Pleasant Hill High’s enrollment declined, and MDUSD was forced to close PHHS as a result. I found out that many believed that instead of building Northgate they could have just done a boundary shift and send some YVHS kids over to PHHS, but with the demographic and ski illogical changes that have transpired in the existing YVHS boundaries over the past 20-30 years (particularly with the way the make up of Concord’s Monument area has changed over since the 80s and 90s) I am sure that the families of East Walnut Creek would not like YVHS as their assigned high school today. It’a sad the way California has become so socioeconomically segregated just over the past 30 years or so.

Really April 20, 2017 at 12:19 PM

This will never pass. It will be seen as segregation, of course, as everything tends to have a racial and SES slant now. MDUSD is corrupt and makes terrible decisions. There is an inquiry going on about “lost” millions of dollars. I can see why they want out and I do not blame them.

Cowellian April 20, 2017 at 12:20 PM

We played this game back in 2007 or so. Walnut Creek folks wanted to move Northgate into some other school district, but nobody wanted them. The Walnut Creek city council approved Northgate leaving MDUSD, but their vote was as meaningless then as it is now. Contra Costa County Board of Education had the final say.

My wife and I attended the hearing the CCCBoE held on the matter, and it was a long, long night. Over 3/4 of the speakers were adamant that Northgate should leave, and the board heard them all out. When all of the speakers finished, the BoE quickly voted to reject the proposal. Most of the supporters were dumbfounded. They assumed that their overwhelming presence at the hearing was equivalent to overwhelming votes.

I have no reason to believe this time will be any different.

Sacto Rob April 20, 2017 at 12:48 PM

Don’t do it. All you’re going to get for your trouble is another band of overly-paid administrators and staff, plus the overhead for an administration building, state and federal reporting requirements, etc.

Bancroft Mom April 20, 2017 at 12:50 PM

Thank you Mayor and City Council for doing the right thing and listening to the citizens of Walnut Creek.

Ano April 20, 2017 at 1:13 PM

MDUSD NEEDS TO BE BROKEN UP. GIVE PITTSBURG BACK ITS SCHOOLS AND BAY POINT ITS SCHOOLS . MARTINEZ IT SCHOOLS AND PLEASANT HILLS TOO. STOP bussing in bad kids from gosh knows where. Then get rid of every person at the district and start over. Then maybe we won’t need to pay for our kids to go to private schools

Silva April 20, 2017 at 1:52 PM

Maybe they think their property values increase (and MDUSD just gives them the property out of kindness).

#boycottWC April 20, 2017 at 2:04 PM

Why is it considered isolationist or elitist?! Are you kidding me?

Hmmmm maybe because of the Loza quote that ONLY THEY should get to vote because ONLY THEY are affected.
Amazing. Really.

Elwood April 20, 2017 at 2:58 PM

I’m grateful that my grandkids have never set foot in a MDUSD school.

chuckie the troll April 20, 2017 at 3:48 PM

How much money has MDUSD pumped into the Northgate campus, vs. Ygnacio, Concord, Clayton Valley, and Mt Diablo? And How much bond debt from MDUSD will property owners in the Northgate area be responsible for? Equity demands that these questions be fully explored and answered.

Some people have noted the elitist attitude of these proponents, and that a ‘Northgate’ district would have few Hispanic or African American students.

I get wanting more responsive institutions…it is why I hate the MTC and other regional government…they are too big to hold accountable. I am unsure if this is the best way to reform MDUSD.

Sara April 20, 2017 at 5:02 PM

I was amazed at how naive the Walnut Creek Council is……..
” What is a charter school” asked Loella Heskew…..well, Loella, if you have never bothered to find out, why are you even voting on an educational issue?
The council spent time talking about non-agenda issues – the issue was only whether they supported a vote- thus violating Brown Act requirements.
And ” We are Walnut Creekers” Richard Carlston lectured about appropriate behavior when he was rude to MDUSD supporters and did everything except have the CAPS presenters canonized. Just as a question, did any of you challenge the obviously false claim that MDUSD has a $ 25 million deficit?
In short, it was a done deal from the very beginning to the staged deliberations in which the Walnut Creek City Council voted to disenfranchise a great number of voters. A wasted evening in which the City Council revealed their ignorance, elitism, lack of integrity, but a total focus on beginning their next campaigns.

PH Worry-wart April 20, 2017 at 5:22 PM

I believe that there is always a balance…some have more, some less. Together, it is fair. I pray that this plan does not go through….

Disappointed April 20, 2017 at 5:26 PM

Sorry to see your article focused mainly on the CAPS movement, Mr. Mayor, with little commentary about the negative impact with the exception of the quote by Nellie Meyer.

This is definitely an elitist move. They cherry-picked the areas included–cutting out areas around YV and Oak Grove, but including the affluent parts of Concord.

Busby April 20, 2017 at 8:36 PM

I don’t believe they can legally vote to exclude the people who paid for the buildings, grounds, chairs, tables, books in the library, audio visual equipment, computers, technology, and sports equipment from voting on the plan.

Mika April 20, 2017 at 11:26 PM

I’d like to see Pleasant Hill have their own district. And my property values go up!

Kenneth r Stanley April 21, 2017 at 12:03 AM

It won’t stand up in court it’s segregation. It might not been intended that way but that’s what the courts will see

Misha Safran April 21, 2017 at 6:30 AM

A huge mistake…another example of parents thinking they’re the only ones who know what’s best for their kids AND their kids only. Elitism at it’s best. I am a parent and a teacher and I know it take a village and a DIVERSE village to give my kids the best education! Very sad that this community wants to exclude so many valuable citizens! And with our new US administration it truly is no surprise. So much for “one for all and all for one”!

Misha Safran April 21, 2017 at 6:31 AM

Please excuse the typos in my last post Haha. Regardless, the sentiments can be read despite them!

Rollo Tomasi April 21, 2017 at 7:59 AM

@ Misha:

As Cowellian stated, this garbage has been going on since 2007 or earlier. Who or what was to blame back then, skippy?

MElMel April 21, 2017 at 8:40 AM

Diversity makes everything worse. Does no one else see the correlation between how far our schools have fallen and the rise of “diversity?” I would say it is not just a correlation, but a causation.

I see it very clearly April 21, 2017 at 9:22 AM

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

AndyB April 21, 2017 at 9:49 AM

The opposition’s contention that those who support the creation of the new district are somehow exclusionist or something worse is just illogical. School assignments are based upon where a student lives. The NUSD proposal has very minor changes to school attendance boundaries. So how can the creation of a new District which is not materially changing attendance boundaries somehow be exclusionary? I would be more sympathetic to the opposition’s logic, if currently under MDUSD policy any student in the District could attend any school, such as happens in the San Francisco School District.

I really do believe that the creation of a new district would be significantly better for the City. MDUSD has done a poor job in serving its constituents. This is evidenced by the number of private schools in the Walnut Creek area. On a per capita basis, I suspect that Walnut Creek area has the highest number of private schools in the entire County and perhaps in the entire Bay Area.

anon April 21, 2017 at 11:15 AM

It doesn’t take a village. It takes a village idiot. Diversity is devisive.

Anon April 21, 2017 at 3:20 PM

“One for all and all for one” ?? No it doesnt work that way. Life is not fair and that’s just the way it goes.

#29. Exactly. People are too busy getting offended by everything they fail to put themselves in others shoes to see where they might be coming from. Having my kids in schools where they are mixing in lower standard students takes away from my childs education. Diversity only benefits those on the lower end of it. It does not benefit the other end at all.

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