The battle to try and withdraw Walnut Creek schools from Mt. Diablo Unified School District is a "David and Goliath" proposition, says Ruth Carver, a Walnut Creek mother of three.

But it's one she and more than 100 families are taking on by petitioning to get five of the city's schools into the Walnut Creek School District and one into the Acalanes high school district.

Carver and others have been hitting spots all over Walnut Creek to get people to sign their petition which asks for Bancroft, Valle Verde and Walnut Acres Elementary, Eagle Peak Montessori, Foothill Middle School and Northgate High School be de-annexed from Mt. Diablo.

So far the group has collected more than 100 signatures. They will need around 2,900 before the petition can be presented to the Contra Costa County Office of Education. Carver says with no funding and completely volunteer run, the petition group is definitely grassroots. Already the group calling themselves "Northgate Parents for Transfer" have set up a Web site. The group is having a petition rally called "We Love WCSD" on Saturday in Civic Park from 4 to 5 p.m.

Carver and other parents want to get schools out of Mt. Diablo because they say there is overcrowding, the district is not responsive and there is a lack of resources and staffing. The district is simply too big and Walnut Creek schools need more attention, she said.


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"I began asking my friends and began to hear from people all over Walnut Creek who have different reasons why this should happen," she said.

Carver feels the state Legislature has made it clear that smaller and more centralized government bodies are the way to go.

"My concern is that Mt. Diablo is so huge and that seems so contrary to what the Legislature is saying we need for the 21st century," she said.

If the boundaries were changed as the petition suggests, Mt. Diablo would lose about 4,462 students and roughly $23 million in funding.

If this happened it would almost double the size of the Walnut Creek district and add 1,500 students to the Acalanes district.

Officials for Mt. Diablo say they want to keep their district in tact.

"It sounds like it's just drawing a new line in the sand, if only it were that simple," said Sue Berg, district spokeswoman.

Carver is touring the districts and has or plans to speak with all of the affected superintendents and boards. Although similar plans to get Walnut Creek schools in one district have been tried before -- decades ago -- Carver is hoping people will look with a fresh perspective.

Patty Wool, Walnut Creek School District superintendent, said the issue has not been seriously considered in years so she has no idea what this would mean financially for the district or what the board's feelings are.

"This is a board decision not a superintendent decision," she said. "We need to know more than we know right now."

Carver plans to address the Walnut Creek board briefly at its meeting Monday.

Jim Negri, Acalanes district superintendent, said the Acalanes board has taken no position on boundary changes in the past. Negri did say that the district has no intention of actively taking territory away from another district.

If all of the signatures were acquired, it would take months of public hearings and meetings before the issue would even be in front of the county education committee. Once the county makes a decision, then either side could appeal to the state Board of Education.

Boundary changes or a unified Walnut Creek district are not new ideas. In the late 1970s, proponents tried to create one Walnut Creek unified school district. That battle in 1981 went all the way to the state Court of Appeal, which upheld the state Board of Education's decision not to allow a new unified district.

For more information go to http://www.npft.org or e-mail ngparents@gmail.com.

Reach Elisabeth Nardi at 952-2617 or enardi@bayareanewsgroup.com.