Ruth Carver, a Walnut Creek parent of children in Mt. Diablo schools, began petitioning in the fall to leave the East Bay's second largest district. She and others in the group describe Mt. Diablo as hobbled by bureaucracy and unable to recruit high quality teachers or pass a parcel tax.
Superintendent Gary McHenry argued that giving up six schools to the Acalanes and Walnut Creek school districts would rob Mt. Diablo of 4,741 students, nearly $25 million in yearly state revenue and $50 million in facilities and real estate.
"This loss would be just devastating for our school district," McHenry told the school board Tuesday night.
The five-member panel unanimously opposed the plan.
"I'm firmly against approving such a thing," said April Treece, school board president.
Carver, her husband Dodie Katague and other members of the group said they will continue to gather signatures. The group plans to present a petition to the Contra Costa County Board of Education, which presides over interdistrict boundary changes.
"This isn't the end," Katague said.
If successful, the transfer would not only strip away prime real estate and revenue from Mt. Diablo schools but could lower the district's overall academic performance. Walnut Creek is home to some of Mt. Diablo's highest achieving campuses, including Northgate High School and Foothill Middle School as well as Bancroft, Eagle Peak Montessori, Valle Verde and Walnut Acres elementary schools.
All have won or have been nominated as state Distinguished Schools, a sign of the district's success, McHenry said.
"Students have been served well and are achieving at a high level," McHenry told the board.
However Northgate parent Ron Loza noted that the campuses paled in comparison to schools with comparable demographics.
Though the state ranked Northgate in the top 10 percent of California high schools in 2006, the school earned a 4 out of 10 when compared to similar schools.
"Is that what you call doing well?" Loza asked
Not all Walnut Creek parents supported switching districts.
Kevin Sullivan, president of the Eagle Peak Montessori Charter School's board of directors, said nobody at his school was consulted before the petition began.
"We need to go on record as extremely concerned about anything that would disrupt our charter or our location," Sullivan said.
Shirley Dang covers education. Reach her at 925-977-8418 or firstname.lastname@example.org.